After a strong campaign at the Pac-12 championships, Cal’s track and field program faces its next quest in Sacramento. The Bears are set to compete in the NCAA West Regionals from May 24 to 27.
While last season saw the Bears qualify a record-breaking 32 athletes to regionals, this year’s group reached new heights, qualifying 36 athletes. The women’s side secured 17 qualifiers, while the men will send 19 athletes to Sacramento.
As the Pac-12 championships proved, the Cal throwing squad certainly has the potential to succeed at regionals. In total, 10 Cal throwers will be competing at regionals in hopes of advancing to the NCAA championships.
In the women’s hammer throw, senior Anna Purchase and freshman Audrey Jacobs will be representing the blue and gold. Competing at regionals for the first time, Jacobs will certainly have to fight for a top-12 spot. At the Pac-12 championships, however, the underclassman Jacobs did well for herself with a fifth-place finish and a heave of 61.10m.
Purchase, on the other hand, is a seasoned veteran. Entering this week’s competition as the NCAA season leader in the women’s hammer throw, there is no doubt that Purchase will place within the top 12. However, after an uncharacteristic showing at the Pac-12 championships, Purchase will have to return to form in order to secure the national title at the NCAA Championships.
Another freshman, Carolina Visca, will round out the women’s throwing squad. With extensive international experience in the javelin throw and a second-place finish at Pac-12s, the young Bear is another strong contender for a high finish from the Bears throwing squad. As with Jacobs, Visca will be tasked with navigating the intensity and excitement of such a critical competition for the first time.
Competing in the men’s discus are sophomore Mykolas Alekna and senior Iffy Joyner. With the duo representing some of Cal’s more seasoned athletes, their experience should make them prepared for the tough competition ahead.
One of the most difficult events of the meet will be the men’s shot put. Representing the Bears in the circle will be juniors Jeff Duesing and Jake Porter.
“It’s going to be very challenging. The West region is incredibly competitive. It’s probably the most competitive it’s ever been,” said assistant throws coach Mohamad Saatara. “I think three guys are throwing 21 meters, which is unheard of. It’s going to be a challenge for those guys, but they’re up for (it).”
On the field, Cal is sending five vaulters to Sacramento.
For the women, senior Amari Turner is the one to watch. With her qualifying jump of 4.30m at Mt. SAC, Turner is on track to improve upon her showing at last year’s regional, where she jumped 3.98m.
Jumping for the men, fans can expect senior Skyler Magula and sophomore Tyler Burns to put on an exciting show. The two have impressed thus far this season, tying for the third-best outdoor jump in program history.
On the track, the Cal women’s 4x100m relay and the men’s 4x400m relay squads will make an appearance against their western counterparts. While the Cal men raced a qualifying time earlier this season at Mt. SAC, the women managed to set a qualifying time at the Pac-12 championships after finishing in 43.81.
Leading the women’s sprinting squad will be sophomore Aysha Shaheed and junior Jada Hicks. Both athletes will be running a leg in the 4×100 relay. Shaheed will also compete in the 100m and 200m while Hicks will race in the 100m hurdles.
This week in Sacramento will bring a talented group of teams entering with high hopes of making it to the NCAA championships. This competition is a critical hurdle the Bears must clear in order to advance to the NCAA championships. After a historic 2023 campaign, these 36 Bears must continue to prove themselves to keep making history.