Few rivalries run as deep as Cal versus Stanford. If there’s anything that will push the Bears to new heights, it’s lining up on the track next to Stanford students.
This Friday and Saturday, Cal track and field will commute to Palo Alto for the Stanford Invitational.
Cal’s throwing corps grows stronger by the day. At last weekend’s Aztec Invitational, freshman Mykolas Alekna put the world on notice with a heave of 66.70 meters in the discus throw. This mark was a school record, and more impressively, a world under-20 record.
Alekna will be back in action at the Stanford Invitational, as will All-Americans Camryn Rogers and Josh Johnson.
In mid-March, when Cal competed in Palo Alto at the Cardinal Classic, a few Bears managed to post strong marks despite the dreary weather. In the men’s division, freshman David Foster came in second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.76, junior Henry Larkin won the 400-meter dash in 47.78 and sophomore George Monroe took fifth place in the 200-meter dash. On the women’s side, Ezinne Abba and Jazlynn Shearer took first place in the 100-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles respectively, but a few key sprinters seemed to have an off day. As the Bears prepare to head back to Stanford, the forecast looks much better.
While the sprinters have generally been able to muster individual strong performances, in order for the team to collectively perform well, they must start demonstrating depth and consistency. Cal fans are yearning to see more than one sprinter break into the top three in each event this weekend.
Even though the throwing squad might dominate the standings, Cal’s sprinting corps brings the hype.
“I love at the end of the meets when they do the 4×4 ( the 4×400 relay), everyone lines up down the last stretch to cheer on our team,” said distance runner Shane Bissell.
Fans should keep their eyes on junior Asha Fletcher. At the Aztec Invitational in San Diego last weekend, she made the podium in both the triple jump and long jump. Up to this point in the season, Fletcher has been incredibly consistent.
The same sentiment applies for long jumpers Mason Mangum and Kamau Carlisle — they’ve been neck and neck this season, often snagging the first two spots on the podium. A few other jumpers are realizing success: In San Diego, high jumper Jai Williams tied for first place and earned a new personal record of 2.07 meters and Isaiah Shaw won the triple jump with a personal record of 14.85 meters.
This meet will not be one bereft of talented endurance athletes. Cal will be well-represented by the likes of Garrett MacQuiddy and Claire Yerby, who will be competing in the men’s and women’s 1500-meter races, respectively. MacQuiddy is coming off an indoor season that saw him run 4:01-low in the mile not once, but twice. Yerby, meanwhile, scored a personal record of 2:09.82 at the Aztec Invitational.
For distance running fans at large, the 5000-meter race has the biggest appeal of any event at the Stanford Invitational. All-Americans like Nico Young, Drew Bosley, Charles Hicks, Ky Robinson, Cole Sprout and Amon Kemboi headline the race. With such a loaded field, a time of 13:30 will almost certainly be necessary to win — so long as the race is not bogged down by tactics.
The Bears should go into this meet with great confidence. Both the men’s and women’s sides were ranked among the nation’s top 20 in the outdoor season’s first USTFCCCA rankings. Underclassmen like Alekna, MacQuiddy and Yerby are tearing it up, while veterans are leading the way.
Cal will face stiff competition in Palo Alto this weekend, but the Bears are more than capable of coming out on top against some of the nation’s best.