Back in November, Cal fans basked in the glory of Cal football’s Big Game win. This Saturday, a different Big Game will take place, but this time as the Big Meet. Competing against the Cardinal, Cal track and field can hope to keep the Axe in the family. Luckily for Cal fans, the track and field team boasts a stellar record this season — as compared to its 4-8 football counterparts.
This season, the Stanford men sit at 15th in the nation while Cal men sit in 20th. For the women, however, there is a large margin between the two teams: The Cardinal women are ranked 12th in the nation with Cal women trailing behind in 42nd.
While the Bears find themselves in a lower placement, their home-field advantage and history of success at the meet works in their favor. Last year, Cal swept Stanford, earning a total of 19 first-place finishes.
The most notable performance was seen by then-freshman Mykolas Alekna. Competing in the discus, Alekna made history with a throw of 67.68m, achieving the all-time NCAA record and a meet record. At the 2022 Pac-12 championships, however, Alekna set a new NCAA record with a throw of 68.73m. Given Alekna’s improvement and success this season, a new meet record is not an unlikely outcome for the young thrower.
The women throwers also brought it home last year in the hammer throw, with Camryn Rogers in first and Anna Purchase in second. This season, the throwers repeated these results at the Brutus Hamilton Invite and Mt. SAC Relays. On Saturday, however, Purchase will have the opportunity to take first place, as Rogers will not be competing in this collegiate meet.
As this season’s national leader in the hammer throw, Purchase holds a clear advantage over her Stanford competitors.
In the jumps, then-junior Skyler Magula placed fourth at last year’s meet with a personal best of 4.61m. While that feat may have seemed impressive at the time, Magula has shown major improvements this season. The Mt. SAC Relays in April saw Magula clear the bar at 5.55m, establishing him as seventh in the nation this season. Competing for the Cardinal, senior Max Manson came in fourth with a height of 5.30m.
Senior Amari Turner is also set to dominate in the pole vault for the women. At last year’s meet, Turner finished in second, with Stanford’s Laurel Wong in first. However, competing at Mt. SAC Relays earlier this month, Turner jumped a height of 4.30m in section A while Wong jumped 3.95m in section B.
In the distance category, the Bears will certainly face stiff competition. In the women’s 1,500m, Stanford freshman Juliette Whittaker currently stands 16th in the nation this season, with a time of 4:12.49. This time earned Whittaker first place at Mt. SAC Relays while Cal junior Claire Yerby placed sixth with 4:18.81.
With Whittaker and Yerby, the 1,500m will be a thrilling watch on Saturday.
On the men’s side, Stanford distance runners Cole Sprout, Charles Hicks and Ky Robinson are a power trio that cannot be overlooked. Currently, Robinson and Hicks rank ninth and 20th in the nation for the 5,000m, respectively. In the 10,000m, Hicks is the nation’s leader this season, while Robinson is in third and Stanford senior Devin Hart stands in 14th.
Despite the Cardinal mens’ national standings, Cal junior Garrett MacQuiddy might be able to give his Stanford counterparts a run for their money. At last year’s Big Meet, MacQuiddy kept the Cardinal at bay in the 1,500m with a first-place finish. Sprout and Hicks took second and third, respectively.
While a win for the Cardinal women seems to be a sure beat, the outcome of the men’s division is less certain. After losing the Big Meet last year, Stanford is likely hungrier than ever for a win. The intensity of the rivalry will surely be felt as athletes and fans take on Edwards Stadium.