Spring is the season of fresh opportunities and beginnings. As the sun breaks through the clouds and flowers bloom, the growth serves as a symbol of hope for the year to come.
For Cal track and field, spring represents the transition to outdoor competition. The 2021 outdoor season is an important milestone for the Bears, as last year’s outdoor season ended almost as soon as it began. The 2020 Cal Opener was the lone outdoor meet that the blue and gold were able to participate in last season. This spring will surely bring opportunities for Cal to redeem its canceled season and showcase the talent it has spent the past year improving on.
On March 20 at the Cromwell Field and Loker Track Stadium in Los Angeles, California, the Bears competed against three Pac-12 teams and proved they have the ability to achieve great success this outdoor season.
As a team, Cal brought home 17 personal best finishes and three individual victories in various events. Sophomore Kamau Carlisle placed first in the men’s long jump with a jump of 7.19 meters, a personal best for the underclassman whose first invitational with Cal was in February of this year.
“The kids competed really well,” said head coach Robyne Johnson. “We have some things to work on, but pretty much everyone does. That’s the nature of it. I’m encouraged by how well they’re moving forward and their energy. We just keep looking forward.”
Sophomore Krissy Smoot placed first in the women’s shot put, earning a personal best in her second season with the Bears. Underclassmen notched two of the three first place finishes for Cal, revealing the potential the team has for success in future seasons. The other first place win came from senior Josh Johnson in the men’s shot put. Johnson’s career-best throw of 19.88 meters at the Trojan Invitational brought him to the No. 2 ranking on the NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Qualifying list.
Two other athletes for the blue and gold are currently in position to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships: Senior Iffy Joyner is ranked 13 in the discus event and freshman Garrett MacQuiddy is sitting at No. 7 for the 800 meters. MacQuiddy has only competed in one invitational for the Bears but managed to place first in the 800 and make the qualifying list all in one go.
As Cal transitions into the outdoor season, the team has kept its goals of having individual athletes qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships and a strong team performance at the Pac-12 championships on May 14-16 in mind. The outdoor season is unique from indoor season in many ways, but it is notably differentiated by the addition of weather.
“We have to deal with wind, rain and sun, so it’s different from the indoor events,” Johnson said. “We’re just trying to get better every year. This is only the second event we’ve had in over a year.”
The blue and gold are looking forward to the Aztec Invitational on March 26 and 27 in San Diego, California. The team plans to continue the momentum built at the Trojan Invitational and work on individual goals in preparation for larger upcoming meets.
“Every week, we try to improve on something we didn’t do well and try to get better and learn from our mistakes,” said Johnson. “Achieving progress in our training and listening and to keep getting better is the goal.”
The Bears have lofty expectations for how this spring will shape up and are excited by the promise of many more invitationals in the future.
Mia Horne covers track and field and cross country. Contact her at [email protected]