In the wake of a disappointing and abrupt end to the 2020 outdoor season of track and field, there remains a light at the end of the tunnel.
Coaches for the Bears have spent the past few months enticing top athletes from all around the world to come to Cal. While the name and reputation of UC Berkeley often stands strong alone, coaches must also convince athletes that the Bay Area is the right place for them to spend their college careers while pursuing greatness in their respective sports.
Chas Davis, assistant distance coach and associate recruiting director, has been working hard year-round to compete with other Pac-12 schools for track and field athletes coming out of high school or transferring colleges.
A lot more than just times and marks go into recruiting decisions. Coaches must decide if the athlete will continue to grow and improve in Cal’s program and if they see the potential for them to work hard and train rigorously with the team.
“At this level, it’s so competitive that not all marks are created equal,” Davis said. “You want to be able to watch an athlete if they’re on the bubble.”
The timing of the recruiting process is also important. While most of next year’s class is already finalized, the Bears still have the ability to recruit well into the summer.
“Fortunately, we can still recruit into June for the coming class,” Davis said. “To compete with the Colorados and the Stanfords and the Washingtons and the rest of the Pac-12, you have to be able to do that. Say some senior pops up out of nowhere — everyone else can get them in at that time, so we have to do that too.”
After a long year of recruiting, the track and field class of 2024 roster — along with athletes transferring from other colleges — is almost finalized.
Here are a few of the recruits who will make the next track and field season one to look forward to.
Incoming freshman Carrick Denker, distance
High school senior Carrick Denker from Dana Hills, California, placed third at the CIF State Cross Country Championships in 2019 with a time of 14:59.9. Cal’s men’s distance team struggled to stay competitive during the 2019-2020 season after losing six of its top runners the year before, so Denker’s arrival is expected to boost its roster.
“It’s a big deal to break 15 on a state cross-country course. He broke 15 this year,” Davis said. “That made him top three and qualified him for Nike nationals, which is a big deal to qualify for. He’ll be a real solid cross-country guy for us.”
Incoming freshman Garrett MacQuiddy, distance
High school senior Garrett MacQuiddy hails from Campbell, California, and will add to the Cal men’s distance team, which is largely made up of younger runners. MacQuiddy placed 15th at the CIF State Cross Country Championships in 2019 with a 5K time of 15.27.6. Along with Denker, MacQuiddy’s addition to the men’s distance team brings promise.
Junior transfer Christian Catlin, sprints
Sophomore Christian Catlin won’t have to travel far from home to compete for the Bears next year. Catlin is transferring from American River College in Sacramento, California, to compete for Cal. Having placed top 5 in every sprinting event he competed in this spring, Catlin will bring short-distance speed to the Bears’ roster.
Junior transfer Kyle Johnston, sprints
Matching Catlin’s top 100-meter time of 10.78 seconds, sophomore Kyle Johnston from Cal Poly Pomona will be another great addition to the Bears’ roster. Also like Catlin, Johnston’s main events are the 100 and 200-meters. Johnston ran his career-best 200-meter time at his last race of the 2020 season at the Beach Opener in early March.
The 2020 spring track and field season ended in a way no one could anticipate, leaving Cal athletes, along with new recruits, unable to finish out the year. Luckily, for most athletes, there’s always next year.
While the new recruits train in preparation for the next track and field season, all that’s left for Cal fans to do is to wait and see what this year’s recruiting class accomplishes.
Mia Horne covers track and field. Contact her at [email protected].