This indoor track and field season has been out of the ordinary to say the least. In the face of constant difficulties, the Bears have persevered. Their ability to stay above all the obstacles the pandemic has thrown in their way marks this season as one to be celebrated.
For everyone on the Cal track and field team, with the exception of senior Camryn Rogers, Championships at the Peak marked the final meet of the 2021 indoor season. With so much uncertainty in the way of their success, the Bears proved that nothing can stop them from building a strong foundation heading into the outdoor season.
At Championships at the Peak, Rogers secured another first place victory in the weight throw and notched a new career-best mark of 21.78 meters. This stellar performance propelled her into No. 10 in the nation for the weight throw event.
The top 16 competitors in the nation in each track and field event automatically qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Rogers was the only Bear to make it into the top 16, but a few came close: Senior Joshua Johnson is currently ranked No. 24 in the nation in the shot put, junior Hakim McMorris is No. 25 in the heptathlon and junior Ezinne Abba is No. 33 in the 60-meter sprints.
After recently moving into No. 13 in the nation for the shot put event, Johnson missed qualifying for the 2021 NCAA Indoor Championships by eight spots, an invitational he was hopeful to attend in 2020. However, because NCAA competition is so fierce, there are no guarantees that even the most talented athletes will be able to compete at the championships.
Johnson’s narrow miss is at least partially attributable to the fact that Cal only had chances at three invitationals to potentially qualify for the Indoor Championships on March 12 and 13 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Noteworthy final performances at the Championships at the Peak invitational include senior Deshae Wise’s third place finish in the 60-meter hurdles, freshman Jeff Duensing’s fourth place finish in the shot put, Abba’s fifth place finish in the 60-meter sprints and freshman Busola Akinduro’s fifth place finish in the triple jump.
Duensing and Akinduro are two newcomers who have already made a big impact this year. Akinduro has finished in the top five at every invitational she’s participated in this season, while Duensing has only competed in two out of the three invitationals but placed top five at both as well.
The depth of the talent on Cal’s track and field team implies a successful outdoor season, and the strong freshman class indicates even more victories to come in the years ahead.
So far, the Pac-12 Outdoor Championships on May 14-16 are the only meet the blue and gold are scheduled to compete in after Rogers participates in the NCAA Indoor Championships. In the meantime, the Bears have little to look forward to in the next couple months; but by this point in the pandemic, they’re certainly used to that.
Mia Horne covers track and field and cross country. Contact her at [email protected]