May 12, 2013
LOS ANGELES - Showing that he's fully recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of action last season, Ray Stewart captured the Pac-12 title in the men's 110-meter hurdles in a lifetime-best 13.43 Sunday, giving the Cal senior his second conference championship in the event in three years.
Stewart won the Pac-10 crown as a junior in 2011 in a then-PR 13.48 seconds. After undergoing surgery in February 2012, he got back on the track exactly one year later during Cal's 2013 indoor season and proceeded to earn All-American honors with an eighth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles at the NCAA indoor meet.
So far this outdoor season, Stewart's best had been a wind-aided 13.67 from the Texas Relays in March and, although he had regularly run under 14 seconds, he hadn't approached his PR until this weekend. In Saturday's preliminaries, he qualified second with a time of 13.73 seconds, setting the stage for Sunday's dramatics.
In the final, Stewart and Oregon's Johnathan Cabral, the 2012 Pac-12 champion, were well out in front of the field as the only two hurdlers to finish in less than 14 seconds. Stewart crossed the line in 13.43 with Cabral right behind at 13.52.
"Ray's victory was special for all of us considering his comeback from reconstructive surgery to a PR and another championship," director of track & field Tony Sandoval said.
Stewart's time keeps him at No. 2 on Cal's all-time list behind only record-holder Larry Cowling's 1982 mark of 13.39. It also stands as the second-best legal mark in the country this spring entering this weekend's championships and moves him to No. 10 on the all-time Pac-12 list. Stewart is the first Golden Bear ever to claim the 110 hurdles conference title twice in a career.
Overall, the Cal men finished eighth in the team standings with 66 points, while the Golden Bear women were ninth with 41.5 points. Both teams improved more than 20 points over last year.
In addition to Stewart, Cal had several other impressive performances on the last day of the conference meet held on the USC campus.
Hammed Suleman came up just short in his attempt to become a dual champion, taking second in the men's triple jump with a best effort of 50-6.00w. Washington's Kasen Covington claimed the crown at 50-9.50. On Saturday, Suleman won the long jump with a PR 25-11.50w
Charnell Price also had a stellar afternoon for the Bears, running anchor on Cal's fourth-place 4x100-meter relay and placing in the top five in both the 100 and 200 meters. Price, along with Esther Higgwe, Alima Kamara and Carisma Lyday circled the track in 45.24 in the relay. Price then claimed third in the 100 (11.60) and fifth in the 200 (23.55), improving on her respective fifth- and eighth-place finishes from last year.
Freshman Randy Bermea scored in both hurdles events on the men's side. In the 400-meter race, he ran a lifetime-best 51.31 to place fourth, falling a tenth of a second shy of the Cal freshman record of 51.21. He was joined in the event by Ryan Holmes, who took seventh in a PR 52.76. In addition, Bermea was seventh in the 110 hurdles despite falling during the race.
Senior Amanda Hunter placed third in the women's long jump with a wind-aided 41-9.25, the highest finish of her career at the meet. She had to sweat out fouls on her final two attempts to hold off USC's Oluwakema Olonade by two inches for the position.
In the men's high jump, the Bears were led by freshman Noel Frazier, who placed sixth in a PR 7-0.25, while Nick Ridge took eighth with a clearance of 6-11.00. Cal also had two scorers in the men's discus. Freshman Ethan Cochran was fourth at 184-3, with Chijoke Nwuzi fifth in a PR 181-4.
Isaac Dan improved his lifetime best in the men's hammer by 13 feet to 194-5, but finished just out of the scoring in ninth place.
Highlights from the meet will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks on Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. PT. The Bears will return to action at the NCAA West Preliminary meet May 23-25 in Austin.
Cromwell Field at Loker Stadium / Los Angeles, Calif.
Triple Jump - 2. Hammed Suleman 50-6.00w (15.39m)
100m - 3. Charnell Price 11.60
200m - 5. Charnell Price 23.55
Pole Vault - 11. Victoria Rische 12-6.25 (3.82m)
Triple Jump - 3. Amanda Hunter 41-9.25w (12.73m)
Discus - 14. Chioma Amaechi 132-10 (40.48m)