FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –The California Golden Bears track & field team had 16 student-athletes in action on Saturday, the final day of competition at the NCAA Championships West Prelims at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark. Five Bears qualified individually, and the 4x100-meter relay team did as well on Saturday. Sophomore Thomas Joyce continued his big weekend, PR’ing in the 1500-meters and qualifying for the NCAA Championships after his time of 3:41.28. Senior Milan Ristic also qualified, as he set a new legal PR in the 110-meter hurdles with a mark of 13.63. Redshirt senior Derek White booked his trip to the Pacific Northwest in the discus with a mark of 185-5, while redshirt sophomore Jonte Grant set a new PR in the triple jump with a leap of 51-7.25 to qualify as well. Though she was already heading to Eugene in the 10000-meters, junior Kelsey Santisteban qualified with the seventh fastest time in the 5000-meters with her time of 16:10.60. Additionally, the men’s 4x100-meter relay team also secured their spot in Eugene, finishing 12th with a season-best tying time of 39.91.
“This was a banner day with qualifiers in the relay, 1500, high hurdles, discus, triple jump and 5000,” Director of track & field Tony Sandoval said in Fayetteville on Saturday. “I told them that first place or 12th place was the same, as the goal is to qualify for the NCAA finals. Overall we either had a qualifying mark, or they improved on their pre-meet rankings. I am, however heartbroken for those so close at 13th place, ending their season and/or career. Rather than ‘March Madness,’ it’s live to run another day.”
Joyce followed up his impressive Thursday, which saw him set his previous PR of 3:43.09, with an even stronger performance on Saturday. The Moraga, Calif. native finished fourth overall to secure an automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA Championships with a time of 3:41.28, which also ranks him sixth on Cal’s All-Time Performers List.
The men’s 4x100-meter relay team comprised of redshirt junior Dan Davis, redshirt seniors Tom Blocker, Dash Oliver and freshman Khalfani Muhammad equaled their season-best time of 39.91 to seize the 12th and final qualification spot to send the quartet to Eugene. Their mark of 39.91 was also set in the prelims at the Pac-12 Championships, and it is the best time that Cal has produced since 1987, ranking seventh on Cal’s All-Time Performers List.
Ristic set a new legal lifetime best of 13.63 and qualified seventh out of the field of 24 on Saturday, earning his way to Eugene. The transfer from UNC Asheville had earned the right to fight for a spot in the NCAA Championships after he clocked a 13.98 on Friday. His previous legal PR was 13.71, which was set early this outdoor season at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
White, who was voted Cal’s male athlete of the year by his peers at the Oskis earlier this month, claimed the 12th and final qualification spot in the discus with his throw of 185-5. White finished ahead of his teammates, freshman Brenden Song and junior CJ Nwuzi, who finished 37th and 43rd respectively.
Grant set a new lifetime best with a mark of 51-7.25, out-leaping his previous best mark of 51-3.00, which was set in April at the Mt. Sac Relays. Finishing tenth, the Hayward, Calif. native earned his first career trip to the NCAA Championships.
Santisteban was already headed to Eugene after qualifying in the 10000-meters on Thursday, but she will be headed to represent the Bears in the 5000-meters as well after her seventh place finish with a mark of 16:10.60 on Saturday. The Castro Valley, Calif. native finished 11th on Thursday in the 10k with a time of 34:19.59.
Joyce, Ristic, White, Grant, Santisteban and the 4x100 relay team will join redshirt senior Hammed Suleman (long jump) at the NCAA Championships in Eugene and are set to compete between Wednesday June 11 and Saturday, June 14 NCAA Championships West Prelims John McDonnell Field/Fayetteville, Ark. California Results Men 1500-meters – 4. Thomas Joyce 3:41.28Q