The track and field season concluded in the very same way it came to an end in 2019 — with Olympic-qualified thrower Camryn Rogers winning the NCAA championships.
Back in January, if the Cal track and field team had been told that by June they would be wrapping up a successful outdoor season without any major pandemic-related setbacks, many coaches would be both relieved and surprised.
The uncertainty that loomed over this spring meant each invitational could potentially be the last. However, everything went according to plan, and the Bears had many opportunities to compete.
Rogers was the 2019 NCAA outdoor champion in the hammer throw event heading into the 2021 season after a year of cancellations due to the pandemic. Expectations were high for the junior, who’d been competing with the team since 2018. Rogers rose to the occasion, knocking every single performance completely out of the park. In her season’s finale, she recorded a 75.52-meter mark in the hammer throw, breaking her own collegiate record in the process.
Not only is Rogers a skilled athlete, but she’s also an expert at the mental gymnastics it takes to compete at such a high level. With throwing events, athletes only get a few chances at success. Each time you step into the circle brings an immense amount of stress and intensity.
“When I go into a throw I don’t really think about anything, I focus on myself and what I need to do for that day,” Rogers said.
That being said, just because Rogers isn’t contemplating anything specific doesn’t mean the intensity isn’t affecting her.
“For some people, if they’re in high-pressure situations, they need to tell themselves to relax,” Rogers said. “Other people need to put more pressure on themselves. For me, I like to use the pressure that has come with the many amazing experiences I’ve been able to have.”
In her outstanding 2021 season, Rogers placed first at 10 of the 11 invitationals she competed at, including the NCAA championships. This kind of success is unusual for even the most advanced throwers. Rogers, however, is no regular thrower.
After her most recent NCAA championships performance, Rogers moved to fourth in the world for the hammer throw. This accomplishment came just weeks after she notched an Olympic-qualifying mark in the same event.
Rogers attributes her success to her wealth of experience in the hammer throw. With an extensive international resume, including a gold medal at the U20 World Championships, it’s clear Rogers has been around the block.
“For high-level competitions, it really is about experience,” Rogers said. “You have to be in that setting to understand how you operate under that pressure and what you do when faced with that kind of stress.”
Senior Iffy Joyner also competed at the NCAA championships and came in 13th in the discus event. Joyner improved five places from the last time he competed at the NCAA championships in 2019.
The blue and gold throws squad was unstoppable this year. With Rogers and Saatara still on their team heading into 2022, there’s no doubt more victories are to follow.
Mia Horne covers track and field and cross country. Contact her at [email protected].