BERKELEY –The California Golden Bears began their outdoor season on Saturday at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley in the California Outdoor Opener, coming away with 19 individual event titles. The Bears men won the scoring meet with 157.50 points, while the women placed second with a total of 114 points, just two behind UC Davis. Redshirt junior CJ Nwuzi set a new PR in the hammer throw with a mark of 175-7 (53.51m), as did sophomore Grace Beaudoin in the high jump, clearing a height of 5-8.75 (1.75m). Redshirt senior Maurice Valentine, Jr. shattered his own PR in the 110-meter hurdles, clocking a 14.70, and fellow redshirt senior Dash Oliver set a new personal best in the 200-meter dash, with a time of 21.93. Junior transfer Joost de Jong also set a personal best in the 400-meter hurdles, with a time of 48.84, winning the event. Redshirt sophomore Jonte Grant (long jump, triple jump) and senior Charnell Price (100-meter dash and 200-meter dash) each captured a pair of event titles.
"It was great to come out to the opening meet with some glorious weather," Director of track & field Tony Sandoval said on Saturday afternoon. "I think the kids really embraced all that and we certainly had some bright spots. Some of our student-athletes from the indoor season didn’t compete today, and for others, it was a good chance to get their feet wet and I thought it was very good for an early season meet."
The field events opened the day for the outdoor season, and California showed very well early. On the men’s side, Scott Esparza won the hammer throw with a mark of 205-1, while his teammate Nwuzi set a new personal best, breaking his previous mark of 173-3, set on April 6, 2013. Redshirt senior Derek White claimed the discus title with a throw of 185-2 (56.44m), only slightly shy of his personal best of 187-6 set back in 2012. Nwuzi placed second, while teammate and freshman Brenden Song finished third in his debut, posting a mark of 169-5 (51.65m).
Grant won the long jump with a mark of 22-3.75 (6.80m), as well as the triple jump, with a leap of 49-2.50 (15.00m). The Bears did well in the high jump also, as senior Nick Ridge captured the title with a clearance of 7-0.50 (2.15m), Sophomore teammate Noel Frazier placed right behind him, clearing a height of 6-10.75 (2.10m). Additionally junior Evan Barr, coming off of a knee injury, cleared a height of 15-5.75 in the pole vault, placing him second.
Redshirt senior Malaina Payton claimed the women’s long jump, with a first-meet leap of 20-0.25 (6.10m). In addition, Beaudoin broke her previous best mark of 5-8.00, set indoors earlier this season, by clearing a height of 5-8.75 (1.75m) on her way to the event title.
On the track, it was Price’s day, winning both the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash, respectively. Her time of 11.61 was just one hundredth of a second behind her legal PR in the 100-meters and won the 200-meters with a time of 23.72 as well. Her 100-meter victory saw her defeat 2013 NCAA qualifier Ashley Marshall, a junior from UC Davis by seven hundredths of a second. Valentine, Jr. set a new PR in the 110-meter hurdles, eclipsing his previous best of 15.03 on Saturday, with a time of 14.70, finishing third in the event. Oliver bested his previous PR of 22.02 in the 200-meters, by registering a 21.93, taking fourth place on Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore Randy Bermea was certainly active on Saturday, winning the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 51.90, placing second in the 110-meter hurdles with a mark of 14.57 and running his fastest 4x400-meter leg this year at 47.3. Freshman Khalfani Muhammad impressed as well, improving from his indoor season in the 200-meter with a time of 21.75, and anchored the come-from-behind win in the 4x100 meter relay.
Redshirt junior Jordan Locklear continued his good form from the indoor season by winning the men’s 1500-meter run on Saturday as well, with a time of 3:45.65. That time, along with junior Sydney Gray’s 4:27.21 were tremendous starts, as both of those marks were NCAA regional qualifying marks. Junior Chris Walden also set a PR in the 1500-meter, placing second behind Locklear with a time of 3:47.76.
Three Golden Bears will be in action at the NCAA Indoor Championships next week in Albuquerque; Chioma Amaechi (weight throw), Suleman (long jump and triple jump) and Milan Ristic (60-meter hurdles). The next outdoor meet is slated for Thursday, March 20 and Friday, March 21, when the Bears host the 18th annual Cal Multi’s.
Cal Outdoor Opener Edwards Stadium/Berkeley, Calif.