Bears move forward into season debut at MLK Invitational

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Lisi Ludwig/Senior Staff

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It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that once said, “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

It’s fitting advice, both for civil rights activists and track and field athletes (or those who are both). As the Cal track and field team prepares for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Invite in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday, it might do them well to keep King’s words fresh in their minds.

Saturday will be the Bears’ indoor season opener, the first of 20 meets slated for the 2022 track season. A select few sprinters, throwers and jumpers will compete, while the distance squad will make its season debut at the All Comers Meet 1 on Jan. 29 at Edwards Stadium.

Cal’s throwers aim to set solid benchmarks from which to build upon in the upcoming season.

The two strongest returners in the men’s lineup will likely be sophomore Ivar Moisander and graduate student Iffy Joyner, who excel in hammer and discus, respectively. Moisander’s contributions last season included the sixth-best hammer throw in school history — an impressive mark of 64.32 meters. Last season, Joyner earned the 15th-best discus throw in Division I and the fourth-best throw in the Pac-12 with his mark of 58.96 meters. He enters the 2022 season with four years of experience under his belt.

However, the star of the throwing squad — and perhaps the entire Cal track and field team — is Olympian Camryn Rogers. Rogers ranks No. 8 globally in the hammer throw, according to Track and Field News. Not only is the Canadian local the youngest woman on the list, she is the only current collegiate thrower. In a D1 field, Rogers’ only competition is herself.

Outside of the throwing ring, seniors Felicia Renelus and Ijeoma Uche have bolstered the women’s jumping lineup. Renelus and Uche are both transfers from Brown, where they must be sorely missed. While competing for Brown, Uche won the long jump competition at the Ivy League Indoor Championship for two seasons in a row, and she routinely jumps over six meters. Saturday will be Renelus and Uche’s first competition sporting blue and gold jerseys.

In addition to its throwers and jumpers, Cal’s sprinting corps will be joining the fray at Saturday’s meet. This year’s group features seasoned veterans — including school record-holder Ezinne Abba — and promising newcomers.

Abba, a senior, engraved her name in the Bears’ record books not once but twice last season. With a 100-meter time of 11.30 seconds, she shaved more than a tenth of a second off of the previous best time in Cal history. The senior also matched the school record for the 60-meter dash, covering the distance in 7.33 seconds.

On the men’s side, one of the most exciting newcomers to the sprints squad is freshman David Foster. Foster, who grew up in Texas and whose mother was a sprinter for Texas A&M, recorded a blistering time of 10.34 seconds for the 100-meters in his senior year of high school.

Cal track and field’s returners and new additions alike are primed to turn heads this season. With a roster that features multiple school record holders and even an NCAA record-holder in Rogers, the history books should be ready for heavy edits during the Bears’ 2022 campaign; Abba and Rogers, among others, eagerly await the opportunity to necessitate further revisions. Meanwhile, numerous newcomers — whether they be transfer students or freshmen — will also be ready to make an immediate impact for Cal.

Their first chance to do so awaits at this weekend’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Invite, where the Bears will fly, run, throw and do all that they must to move forward.

Sarah Siegel covers track and field. Contact her at [email protected] Ethan Moutes covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected].