SEATTLE –The California Golden Bears captured three individual MPSF Championships today, as junior Chioma Amaechi won the women’s weight throw, and Cal swept the long jump, with redshirt senior Hammed Suleman claiming the men’s title and senior Malaina Payton grabbing the women’s championship. Senior Tom Blocker also broke his own school record (set two weeks ago in Albuquerque) in the 60-meter dash preliminary heats, clocking a time of 6.71, and qualifying for the event’s final on Saturday. Junior Milan Ristic set a new Serbian indoor record in the 60-meter hurdles preliminary heats with a time of 7.69, winning his heat and qualifying for tomorrow’s final to highlight Cal’s first day of competition at the MPSF Indoor Track & Field Championships in Seattle at Dempsey Indoor Facility.
"I and the entire staff are really pleased with our intensity and focus today," Director of track & field Tony Sandoval said on Friday night. "We definitely came today with our ‘A’ game! That said, it is always a challenge to come back tomorrow morning, especially when we finish so late."
Through six events, Cal’s men are leading the way with 40 points – on pace to surpass their total for the meet last year when they finished third with 73.5 points. The Cal women are tied for sixth with 25 points after seven events.
Amaechi won her first ever conference championship in the weight throw Friday on her last attempt of the day, posting a mark of 67-2.75 (20.49m). Heading into her final throw, the junior was in third place, but she surged into the lead with her last toss, claiming the title. This honor comes only two weeks removed from her school-record in the same event at the Husky Indoor Classic, with a mark of 71-4.25 (21.75m).
Cal’s performance in the long jump will go down in program history, as they swept the titles on both the men’s and women’s sides, as Suleman and Payton claimed conference supremacy on Friday. Suleman, the Pac-12 Champion in last year’s outdoor season added an MPSF crown in the event to his resume by leaping 24-6.50 (7.48m). Redshirt sophomore Jonte Grant also made some noise, finishing in second right behind his teammate with a jump of 24-1.50 (7.35m). Payton, a redshirt senior from Vallejo, grabbed her first MPSF title, jumping 19-8.25 (6.00m).
Blocker followed up his tremendous performance two weeks ago at the Don Kirby Elite Invitaitional, in which he set a new school record in the 60-meter dash (6.74) by blazing to a new one on Friday night. He finished first in the preliminary heats with a time of 6.71, a new PR, and will compete in the final tomorrow. In addition, Blocker set another new PR in the 200-meter dash with a mark of 21.55, besting his previous time of 21.64 and finished fifth. Redshirt senior Dash Oliver also qualified for the final in the 60-meter dash, finishing sixth in the prelims with a time of 6.80.
Ristic, a transfer from UNC Asheville broke the Serbian indoor record in the 60-meter hurdles in the prelims, posting a new PR mark of 7.69, qualifying with the day’s best time. The junior figures to have qualified for the NCAA's with that time and will be competing against defending champion Jonathan Cabral form the University of Oregon in tomorrow's final. Ristic also finished third in the 200-meter dash, clocking a time of 21.35, which is a new PR as well, besting his time of 21.48 twice earlier this season. In addition, freshman Khalfani Muhammad set a new PR in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.22. On the women’s side of the 200-meter dash, senior Charnell Price placed sixth with a time of 24.28, which was one hundredth of a second faster than her previous indoor PR.
The California men earned a combined nine points for their total team score in the weight throw, with redshirt senior Derek White (63-7.00; 19.38m), redshirt juniors CJ Nwuzi (63-6.25; 19.36m) and Scott Esparza (60-4.25; 18.40m) finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. Their teammate, redshirt sophomore Isaac Dan also showed well, finishing 11th with a mark of 56-5.75 (17.21m).
The Golden Bears will open their 2014 outdoor season next week at home at Edwards Stadium in the California Outdoor Opener.
MPSF Championships Dempsey Indoor Facility/Seattle, Wash. California Results
Team Score (after six events) 1. California 40; 2. Arizona State 37; 3. UCLA 33; 4. Arizona 28; 5. Stanford 21; 6. BYU 16; 7. Washington 15; 8. Washington State 14; 9. Oregon 12.50; 10. Colorado 11; 11. Cal State Northridge 2; 12. Long Beach State 1.5
Team Score (after seven events) 1. Arizona 31; 2. Arizona State 28; 3. Oregon 26.50; T-4. Washington 26; T-4. UCLA 26; T-6. California 25; T-6. USC 25; 8. BYU 24; 9. Colorado 17; 10. Utah 16; 11. Washington State 11; 12. Stanford 8.5; 13. Cal State Fullerton 4; 14. Long Beach State 3; 15. Cal State Northridge 2.