ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - California began the 2014 indoor track & field season in strong fashion Friday night, capturing two events, and placing in the top three in three others on the opening night of the Cherry & Silver Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Redshirt senior Hammed Suleman snagged the men’s long jump title, while sophomore Randy Bermea won the men’s 400-meter hurdles at the Cherry & Silver Invitational for the second consecutive year. Junior Chioma Amaechi finished third in the women’s weight throw, an event she won last year, while redshirt senior Malaina Payton placed third in the women’s long jump and redshirt junior Chijoke Nwuzi (second) and redshirt senior Derek White (third) placed in the men’s weight throw.
“Considering it’s our first meet of the season and the quality of the competition is so high, I’m very pleased with a number of good performances today,” said Director of Track & Field Tony Sandoval. “Many ranked teams are here in Albuquerque because the NCAA’s are here in March.”
Suleman, the Pac-12 long jump champion in the 2013 outdoor season, began 2014 with a bang, winning the same event on Friday night with a jump of 25-3.25 (7.70m). He outperformed the second place finisher, Florida State’s Paul Madzivire by nine-tenths of a meter. On the women’s side, Payton placed third, with a jump of 6.23m, not far behind the pace of the event’s winner and second-place finisher.
“Hammed stood out with his win in the long jump,” Sandoval continued. “That mark should qualify him for the NCAA’s. Malaina also jumped very well in the long jump and was in a very close battle for first.”
Competing in a rare indoor event, the 400-meter hurdles, Bermea claimed the title for the second consecutive season in Albuquerque. He raced to the victory with a time of 52.41, a shade under three seconds faster than the second place finisher.
The Bears factored heavily in the weight throw on both the men’s and women’s side for the second straight year, though 2014 saw no first place finishers in Blue and Gold. Nwuzi finished second with a best mark of 64-0.50 (19.52m), while White, who won the event last year, posted a best-mark of 63-7.00 (19.38m). For the women, Amaechi claimed third place with a new PR, a throw of 65-9.50 (20.05m), besting her performance last year at the same meet.
The Cherry & Silver Invitational continues tomorrow on the campus of the University of New Mexico. Head to CalBears.com for the latest results, and follow along with live stats.