After several months of meets, rigorous training and constant rewriting of Cal program record books, the dust is finally settling on the 2021-22 track and field season. With an eye-popping recruiting class that entered this past year, as well as the return of decorated veterans, expectations were high at the outset. All is done; now, what’s to be said? The answer is simple: The Bears exceeded those expectations by putting together their best season in years.
It would be a mistake to start by speaking of anyone but Camryn Rogers. The Daily Californian commits to objectivity in its reporting, which won’t stop me from saying that Rogers is the greatest hammer thrower in NCAA history. It’s not an opinion — it’s a statement of fact.
This past weekend, Rogers added to her already legendary legacy by collecting her third NCAA championship in the hammer throw. In doing so, she broke the collegiate record for the event for a fifth time with a heave of 77.67 meters. The future is bright for the NCAA’s undisputed GOAT.
Anna Purchase was phenomenal as well, finishing seventh in the same event to secure another First Team All-American spot for Cal. She did so with a toss of 69.34 meters.
Rogers isn’t the only NCAA record holder on the blue and gold roster: Freshman Mykolas Alekna already has the discus event’s highest mark and an under-20 world record to his name. Alekna turned in an impressive performance at the NCAA championships, but was unable to capture the discus title this time around. Claudio Romero of Virginia out threw him by the slimmest of margins, as the two were separated by 0.02 meters. That said, Alekna still took second with a throw of 66.15 meters. Good luck to all who will have to contend with Alekna over the next three years, because he’ll be back with a vengeance.
Iffy Joyner also made a huge impact in the discus throw, snagging a fourth-place finish and First Team All-American status. He will be competing at the U.S. championships later this month.
Sticking with throws, Josh Johnson nabbed Second Team All-American honors in shot put with a mark of 19.39 meters. Led by throws coach Mohamad Saatara, the Bears staked their claim as perhaps the best throwing program in the country this past season.
In addition to the throwers, several other athletes including sprinter Ezinne Abba, decathlete Hakim McMorris and jumper Busola Akinduro helped Cal to its highest team score since 1993 for the men and since 2007 for the women.
In other words, the Bears went out with a bang, which was only right considering the trajectory they had been on all season. This was a year characterized by a sweep of Stanford at the Big Meet, numerous school records and, now, a strong showing at the NCAA championships.
With many of its All-Americans graduating, Cal will have its work cut out for it next season. That being said, the Bears maintain young standouts such as Alekna, sprinter David Foster and pole vaulter Tyler Burns, so there’s also much reason for optimism.
Ethan Moutes covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected].