May 21, 2013
THIS WEEK IN CAL TRACK & FIELD: More than 30 Golden Bears will travel to Austin, Texas, this week for the NCAA West Preliminary meet with the goal to qualify for the NCAA Championships June 5-8.
Cal will be competing in 34 individual events plus two relays during the three-day meet Thursday through Sunday. The top 12 out of each event will advance to the national meet to be held two weeks later in Eugene, Ore.
Seven members of the squad enter the meet ranked among the top 10 in the West. Leading the contingent is junior Hammed Suleman, who is No. 1 in the long jump and No. 2 in the triple jump. Suleman captured the Pac-12 title in the long jump with a PR 25-11.50, while his top mark in the triple jump - 53-4.50 - came in Austin during the Texas Relays in March.
Cal's other conference champion - Ray Stewart - comes in at No. 2 in the 110m hurdles after his PR 13.43 in the Pac-12 race. The only person ahead of him is Oregon's Johnathan Cabral, whom he beat in the Pac-12 meet final.
Others rated in the top 10 in their respective events are: Kelsey Santisteban (7th, women's 5000m), Malaina Payton (6th, women's long jump), Collin Jarvis (9th, men's 3000m steeplechase) and Nick Ridge (9th, men's high jump).
Two preliminary championships will be held May 23-25, with the West regional in Austin and the East regional in Greensboro, N.C., with the top 48 individuals and top 24 relays in each region earning invitations. The field will be narrowed to 12 from each region to advance to the NCAA Championships in June.
Three Bears who will be at regionals next week reached the NCAA meet in 2012 - Harrison Steed in the men's high jump, Chad Jones in the men's triple jump and Scott Esparza in the men's hammer. Steed posted the best result of the group, earning All-American honors for his eighth-place national finish.
PAC-12 TITLES FOR SULEMAN, STEWART: Cal returned home from the Pac-12 Championships in Los Angeles May 11-12 with a pair of conference champions in the travel party. Hammed Suleman soared to a PR 25-11.50 in the men's long jump to become Cal's first winner in the event since Chris Ferreira in 1996. In addition, Ray Stewart blazed to a lifetime-best 13.43 to capture his second men's 110m hurdles title (he also won in 2011 before knee surgery kept him off the track last year). The time keeps him No. 2 in school history in the event and moves him to No. 10 on the all-time Pac-12 list. With the two crowns, the Bears won multiple conference championships for the first time since taking three in 1996.
Cal also had several other notable performances at the Pac-12 meet. Suleman just missed on a second title when he finished as the runner-up in the men's triple jump, while Collin Jarvis, who won the men's 3000m steeplechase in 2012, claimed second place this year. Others to finish in the top 3 were Charnell Price in the women's 100m, Amanda Hunter in the women's triple jump and Malaina Payton in the women's long jump.
JUMPING BEARS: Cal's depth in the jumps this year can be found in the fact that the Bears will have 11 entrants in the high jump, long jump or triple jump at the NCAA preliminary meet. Cal has one each on the women's side, but the numbers really shoot up for the men with four high jumpers, three triple jumpers and a long jumper making their way to Austin. Three of Cal's men's high jumpers have cleared 7-0, including Nick Ridge, who went 7-3 indoors this year, and Harrison Steed, whose 7-2.50 last June gave him All-American honors at the NCAA Championships. All three of the Bears' triple jumpers have surpassed 51 feet. Malaina Payton is the top-ranked woman on the list, coming it at No. 3 all-time at Cal in the long jump with her best effort of 21-1.50 from the Big Meet earlier this season. Gianna Fernandez (T4th, 5-10.50, HJ) and Amanda Hunter (7th, 42-0.50, TJ) also rate among the school's top 10.
THROWS ALSO STRONG: While the numbers aren't quite as high as with the jumps, the Bears have more than their fair share of throwers competing in Austin with a combined eight in the shot put, discus and hammer. Two freshman records have been broken this year with Shelby Ashe raising the mark in the women's hammer to 201-10 and Ethan Cochran going 188-8 in the men's discus. During the indoor season earlier this year, Chioma Amaechi, who will be in the women's shot at the regional meet, set a school record in the weight throw with an effort of 67-2.
NEW HALL OF FAMER: Rick Brown, the only four-time 880-yard champion (1971-74) in Pac-8 history, has been elected to the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame and will be enshrined with the rest of the class in October. As a sophomore in 1972, he set the school record in the 800 meters when he was timed in 1:45.4 in the finals of the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. - a mark that still stands atop the record book a remarkable 41 years later.
GOLDEN BEAR NOTES: Matt Petersen (men's cross country), Jonathan Berry-Smith (men's track & field), Deborah Maier (women's cross country) and Nicole Larson (women's track & field) all received Golden Bear Achievement Awards for having the highest GPAs on their respective teams ... Ethan Cochran received the Newcomer of the Year Award as voted by his fellow student-athletes at the Oski's, Cal Athletics' version of the ESPY's ... 18 Golden Bears earned all-academic honors from the MPSF for the indoor season.