Across the Bay and about an hour’s drive from the UC Berkeley campus is that of the blue and gold’s archrival, Stanford. The rivalry between the Bears and Cardinal has been long running, with the annual “Big Game” determining who holds bragging rights and possession of the axe for the year to follow. Unfortunately for Cal, the 2020 axe belongs to Stanford and the Bears football team must wait patiently until fall for a chance to redeem itself.
The Stanford-UC Berkeley rivalry is decades strong and extends well beyond the sport of football. Chemists at both universities race against each other to see who can discover more elements. Both schools boast a prime location for techies, given their proximity to the Silicon Valley. The contention is part of both schools’ cultures. Without it, Cal’s 2019 football victory — its first in 10 years — would’ve been significantly less sweet.
This Saturday, the Bears’ track and field team will host the Cardinal for this year’s Big Meet.
When the two teams met in Palo Alto earlier this season, senior Camryn Rogers showed the Cardinal what she’s capable of by placing first in the hammer throw with a mark of 71.73 meters. Prior to the West Coast Classic in Eugene, Oregon, this was the farthest throw of her career. Expectations are high for the star thrower heading into the meet, as she currently sits at No. 1 in the NCAA Division 1 outdoor rankings for the hammer throw.
Senior Joshua Johnson had room to grow at the Stanford Invitational on April 2 and 3 after finishing second in the shot put. Since then, Johnson has moved up to No. 6 in the NCAA rankings and is in position to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which feature the top 16 contenders in the nation from each event. Johnson is only one spot behind No. 5 McKay Johnson from USC, a former Bear with whom Joshua trained with for several years. Their marks differ by only 0.7 meters, indicating that Joshua could potentially overtake his former teammate in the rankings.
“I’m definitely working towards the Outdoor NCAA Championships,” said Joshua. “I’m just taking it meet by meet and working on things I can improve on for the next competition.”
Besides the talented Rogers and Johnson, the Bears have several other top competitors who are sure to make waves at the Big Meet. Freshman Garrett MacQuiddy placed first at the Stanford Invitational in the 800 meters. MacQuiddy has four consecutive first-place finishes at all four collegiate meets he’s competed in this season. The stakes are high for MacQuiddy at the Big Meet, as a fifth first-place victory would add to his very impressive record.
Senior Deshae Wise placed first in the 100-meter hurdles at the Stanford Invitational and with a recent first-place finish in the same event at the West Coast Classic in Tucson, Arizona, there’s a high likelihood that this opportunity to show out at home will be another success story.
The Bears are ready to take on the Cardinal and have had a week-long break from competing to rest and prepare. While it’s true that in nature a tree stands no chance against a bear, only time will tell whether mascot superiority will translate into track and field success this Saturday at the Big Meet.