Cal Opener Will Feature Many Season Debuts
BERKELEY – Just one weekend after finishing up one of its best indoor seasons ever, California track & field kicks off the outdoor season and enters the heart of its schedule on Saturday, hosting the Cal Opener at Edwards Stadium. Field events are slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. PT with the men’s hammer throw, while the track events will commence at 12:30 p.m. with the women’s 4x100m relay.
“I’m very excited for the outdoor season,” Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Robyne Johnson said. “This is where we truly shine. The team is definitely starting to gel, and we have some lofty goals that we’re ready to accomplish.”
Those “lofty goals” naturally include improving on 2022’s tremendous outdoor results, in which the Bears ended the year ranked No. 18 (men) and No. 21 (women) in the nation. Cal qualified 31 athletes – its largest group ever – to the NCAA West Regionals after the Pac-12 Championships, where the women placed third and the men sixth – six and four spots better, respectively, than each side’s 2021 campaign. Thirteen of those regional qualifiers moved on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where six of them garnered All-American honors.
The departure of three-time national hammer champion Camryn Rogers, who concludes her collegiate career next weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships, will create the opportunity for other stars to shine for the Bears’ throwers. Senior Anna Purchase earned First Team All-American status last year in the same event and threw over 70 meters at the 2022 Brutus Hamilton Invitational, while sophomore and current NCAA record-holder Mykolas Alekna finished runner-up in the discus at the NCAA Championships; the latter was joined on the podium by senior Iffy Joyner, who finished fourth in the field. Projected freshman stars include hammer thrower Audrey Jacobs, who competed in last year’s U20 World Championships, and javelin thrower Carolina Visca, the reigning Mediterranean Athletics U23 champion.
Several other outdoor stars from 2022 remain on the Bears’ roster. Sophomore David Foster, who won a World U20 bronze medal in the 4x100m relay last summer and broke the indoor 60m record twice last month, is primed for a strong season, while junior Busola Akinduro, the reigning Canadian triple jump champion, hopes to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the second straight year….
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