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BERKELEY'S NEWS • SEPTEMBER 29, 2023

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Postseason ready: Bears to compete in Pac-12 championships

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AILEEN PARK | STAFF

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MAY 13, 2023

As students finish up the 2023 finals season, Cal track and field is faced with a final test of its own — the Pac-12 championships and the rest of the postseason.

The championships provide the Bears with an opportunity to not only display their hard work this outdoor season, but qualify athletes for NCAA regionals. Competing at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, California, the Bears are set to lay it all out on the track.

The Cal men come into the championships with a second-place ranking in the conference and 20th in the nation. Ahead of the Bears stands nationally ranked Washington, while UCLA sits in third.

The women, on the other hand, enter Friday’s championships in seventh place in the conference. Leading the women’s Pac-12 division are nationally ranked Oregon, USC and Stanford.

As the rankings show, the Bears have accomplished a historic season that will go down in Cal history. Nevertheless, facing premier competition this weekend, the hardest part of the season still lies ahead for the Bears.

Lucky for Cal, the team comes into the championships with a recent win against Stanford at the Big Meet.

Sophomore Mykolas Alekna is expected to help lead the men to a high finish, having earned the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association DI Men’s Athletic National Athlete of the Week and Pac-12 Men’s Field Athlete of the Week earlier this month. Most recently, Alekna threw a discus collegiate record of 71.00m at the Big Meet.

Alekna’s competition is ASU’s Turner Washington, who stands in second place in the conference. Given that Washington’s best throw of the season drags 6.02m behind Alekna, the odds are in Alekna’s favor for a first place finish.

Senior Anna Purchase similarly finds herself light-years ahead of her Pac-12 competition in the hammer throw. Oregon junior Shelby Moran, the Pac-12’s second best hammer thrower this season, trails behind Purchase by 6.42m.

Last year’s iteration of the championships saw former Bear Camryn Rogers take the hammer throw win with Purchase in second. Now, competing without Rogers by her side, Purchase will hope to keep the hammer title in the Cal family.

Entering the competition in second in the Pac-12 for the javelin is freshman Carolina Visca. Though Visca has only competed twice this season, the freshman certainly has the talent to keep up with her competition. As a newcomer, however, her performance will rest on her ability to approach the championships with ease and focus.

While Cal has a competitive advantage in the throws, another crucial aspect of the Bears’ success will be in the pole vault. Sophomore Tyler Burns and senior Sklyer Magula lead the Pac-12 in first and second place, respectively.

The duo, however, will have to watch out for Stanford’s Garrett Brown, who ranks third in the conference. At the Big Meet, Brown out-jumped Burns and Magula with a first-place mark of 5.41m.

The women also have an opportunity to gain points in the pole vault with senior Amari Turner on their side. Turner ranks second in the Pac-12 for the women’s pole vault after jumping 4.30m at the Mt. SAC Relays.

On the sprinting side, the Bears also have the potential to hold their own in the sprints. Sophomore Aysha Shaheed holds fifth place in the conference in the 100m, while junior Jada Hicks stands at No. 6 in the 100m hurdles. In the men’s 110m hurdles, seniors Hakim McMorris and Riley Hunt, along with sophomore Di’Niko Bates, all hold top-10 spots in the conference for the event.

Where Cal may struggle to be competitive is in the distance events. Entering the championships, junior Garrett MacQuiddy is the only Cal athlete to hold a top-10 spot in the conference for a distance event. However, if the distance squad is able to step up and show out, Cal may be able to defy the odds.

The pressure and intensity of the postseason has finally arrived. After a stellar outdoor campaign this season, the Bears have the skill to keep up with their Pac-12 opponents. To find success this weekend, the team is tasked with maintaining consistency in this high-stakes environment.

Contact Simone Parisi at 

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MAY 17, 2023