Cal’s track and field athletes excel in high desert

Photo of cal athlete pole vaulting
Lisi Ludwig/Senior Staff

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A land of sweeping mountain ranges, valleys and plateaus, New Mexico’s arid landscape is a far cry from California. And while Berkeley sits around 170 feet above sea level, Albuquerque — the location of Cal’s season opening track and field meet — boasts a staggering elevation of 5,312 feet.

Even in Albuquerque’s thin air, Cal’s track and field athletes were able to produce a strong start to their season at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational last Saturday. Aside from three event wins, many of the Bears’ throwers, jumpers and sprinters broke into Cal’s all-time top ten lists — making school history in the first meet of the indoor season.

Throwers

To nobody’s surprise, former Olympian Camryn Rogers placed first in the weight throw with her toss of 22.04m, eclipsing the second place throw by a mammoth 4.26m. Rebecca Tomann came in third with a throw of 17.25m, followed closely by Anna Purchase’s fourth-place throw of 17.17m, good for fourth and fifth place rankings in the Pac-12.

In the men’s division, Josh Johnson earned first place in shot put with a 19.58m throw, ranking eighth in the NCAA and third in the Pac-12. Jeff Dunseing’s 19.18m toss earned him third place at the meet and third place in school history.

Jumpers

With only three athletes listed on the roster, Cal’s men’s jumping squad seems to be a tiny yet mighty bunch. On Saturday, junior Mason Mangum’s long jump measured out at 7.42m, good for a first place finish and 10th in Cal track and field history. In the same event, junior Kamau Carlisle measured at 7.31m, walking off the field in third place and with a new personal best. Jai Williams, a junior in the Haas School of Business, executed a 2.02 meter high jump to earn a fourth-place finish, the highest high jump of his collegiate career. In a sport where self improvement is a defining metric, these two early season PRs bode well for the rest of the year to come.

In the women’s division, triple-jumper Asha Fletcher managed to land third overall with a 12.56m leap. The junior from Los Angeles now ranks first in the Pac-12 and eighth in Cal history in the triple jump.

Junior Amari Turner pole-vaulted 3.83m to take second place in the event. However, her personal highest mark from last season, 3.95m, would have put her within 0.03m of first place. For Turner, there is ample room to improve.

Sprinters

The races provided further demonstration of the Bears’ proclivity for making history in Albuquerque. In fact, it was a pair of hurdlers who made the most noise on behalf of the blue and gold’s sprint corps.

Those hurdlers, Di’Niko Bates and Jazlynn Shearer, both happen to be newcomers to Cal’s track program, but they did not wait long to make an impact. The freshman Bates recorded a time of 7.97 seconds in the men’s 60-meter hurdle final, good for fourth in the meet and — more impressively — sixth in Cal history. Shearer, a sophomore who transferred from UNLV, also excelled in the 60-meter hurdles. By covering the distance in 8.35 seconds, Shearer took fourth place in the women’s race and landed in fourth on Cal’s all-time list.

What the Bears managed to accomplish this past weekend at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational should give them tremendous confidence moving forward. Having already recorded several all-time school performances in just their first day of competition, and at altitude to boot, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with as the season progresses.

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