2022: arguably the best outdoor track and field season in Cal track and field history. And now, the Bears stand at the end of the road, fielding 13 athletes in the NCAA championships from June 8 through 11.
To no surprise, Cal’s throwing corps is overrepresented in the qualifying lineup. Camryn Rogers, Anna Purchase, Josh Johnson, Mykolas Alekna, Iffy Joyner and Ivar Moisander will each take a turn in the throwing ring this week. Olympian Rogers will be vying for her third-straight national title. Alekna, a freshman from Lithuania, has already achieved unparalleled success, notching an all-time NCAA record and the world 19-year-old record. It is difficult to imagine an NCAA championships without Alekna at the top of the podium.
Cal’s 4x100m relay team, composed of Jada Hicks, Jordyn Grady, Maisie Stevens and Aysha Shaheed, will be competing for a spot in the finals. Senior Ezinne Abba, the Bears’ strongest sprinter, will race the 100-meter dash. Abba is currently ranked 12th in the nation.
Speaking of ranks, senior decathlete Hakim McMorris has been stealthily working his way up the ladder this season, entering this week’s competition as the nation’s ninth best. Finally, sophomore Busola Akinduro was Cal’s wild card. She pulled off a massive personal record at regionals and landed in 12th place, the last qualifying spot.
The NCAA championships are held in Eugene, Oregon — the mecca of track and field. With nothing left on the calendar, the entire field will be competing like it is the last meet of their career. And for some, it will be. The podium will favor bold moves, risk takers and those willing to run like tomorrow doesn’t exist.
The lineup reveals an obvious weak spot: Not a single member of Cal’s distance squad qualified for NCAA championships. Cal’s throwers are some of the best in the nation, and the sprinting and jumping programs have shown slow but steady progress. Some might say that Cal track and field has entered a new golden era — only time will tell. Regardless, the team has set a new standard, but the distance corps has been left in the dust.
The distance corps won’t have to wait a whole year to redeem itself, though. The 2022 cross country season is on the horizon — clearly, the Bears better start training.