The Bears and Cardinal story is a tale as old as time. This Saturday, Cal track and field will keep this rivalry alive as it heads to Stanford for the Cardinal Classic.
After a faulty start to the outdoor season at the Cal Opener earlier this month, this invitational will mark the season debut for the majority of the team. Battling in enemy territory, this meet will provide a low-stakes environment for execution. The real Bears versus Cardinal showdown will not take place until the Big Meet on April 29.
Going into Saturday’s meet, the Bears will be looking to put their training to work.
“The goal is, if we get good weather, we would like to get a lot of marks that qualify us for the first round of … the NCAA championships. Other than that it is mainly kind of just (about) getting started with the outdoor season,” said assistant coach Dan Lefever. “It is mainly about getting the competition in and starting to work on dealing with weather.”
As the Bears enter the outdoor season, they leave behind thrower Camryn Rogers who ended her career at the indoor championships. While Rogers may be gone, there are several women’s throwers who are fierce contenders. Senior Jasmine Blair will be competing in the discus throw on Saturday. Last outdoor season at the NCAA West Preliminary, Blair launched a throw of 54.97m good for second place in program history. Blair’s name is written in the record books once more as she holds the seventh best hammer throw in Cal history. In the hammer throw, junior Rebecca Tomann is set to take the circle. Tomann found success last season setting the 10th best hammer throw in Cal history at the Pac-12 Championships.
For the men, junior Justin Wirtz will be competing in the discus throw joined by sophomores Riley Knott and Charlie Dang. At last year’s meet, Wirtz walked away with second and third place finishes in the shot put and discus, respectively. Taking on the hammer throw is junior Ivar Moisander who owns the fourth best hammer and weight throws in program history.
On the track, the sprinting events will also be stacked with Cal athletes. This year’s school record breakers, Jada Hicks and Aysha Shaheed, will be racing in the 100m dash — an event unique to the outdoor season. In the 100m hurdles, fans can catch junior Jazlynn Shearer who took first place in the event last year and established herself in the No. 4 spot in Cal history.
Another record-holder, sophomore Gavin Schurr, will be racing in the 100m and 200m dashes. Schurr set a school record of 21.21 in the 200m earlier this season. Also racing in the 100m and 200m is junior George Monroe. At the 2022 Pac-12 Championships, Monroe helped lead the 4x100m relay squad to a fifth place finish. Monroe holds the sixth fastest 200m time in program history. Reigning Cardinal Classic champion of the 400m dash, senior Henry Larkin, will represent the Bears once again in this event. The senior can only hope that history repeats itself this weekend.
Taking on the pole vault, fans should have an eye on senior Amari Turner who led the women’s pole vault squad in the indoor season. Turner holds the fourth and fifth spots in program history in the pole vault for indoor and outdoor performances, respectively. Representing in the men’s pole vault will be a multi-event newcomer duo in freshman Parker Terrill and Brown transfer Jono Pelusi. Pelusi finished in second place in the decathlon at last year’s Ivy League Championships. Competing in the 2022 California Interscholastic Federation, Terrill took fourth place in the pole vault. Saturday’s event will show what these two newcomers can bring to the team this outdoor season.
With distinct indoor and outdoor seasons, track and field is a long game. However, each meet counts as the Bears have high expectations for this outdoor season.
“I think my events especially I am really pushing the group to have a very strong presence at the outdoor championships. We have some people that are coming into their own to help highlight what we can do as a team,” Lefever said. “We are super excited for this year to continue what we built last year and keep progressing towards the level of team that we are working hard to achieve.”
Saturday’s race will provide many freshmen the opportunity to compete in a low-pressure meet. After this weekend’s race, the Bears walk away with a better sense of where they stand this season.