This weekend, social media feeds were overwhelmed with snapshots of the Coachella music festival. However, in Walnut, California another festival of sorts was occurring simultaneously: the Mt. SAC Relays.
The meet is a world-renowned track and field competition that hosts the best of the best, featuring distinct elite and collegiate divisions. For the Bears, five men competed in the elite division while the Cal women had four elite entries.
Competing in the elite men’s decathlon was senior Hakim McMorris who finished in ninth place overall.
On day one of the meet, McMorris earned 4,118 points and saw his highest finish of the day in the 100m, coming in first place at 10.48. McMorris’ sprinting success carried over into day two, with a third-place finish in the 110m hurdles.
In the discus, however, McMorris struggled, ultimately finishing last in 16th place. Throwing the discus 30.86m on his first attempt, McMorris was unable to improve this mark after consecutive foul throws on his second and third attempts.
It wasn’t until the third and fourth days that the track and field festival saw the bulk of Cal athletes take the field.
In the elite 1,500m, junior Claire Yerby earned sixth place — and sixth in Cal history — with her time of 4:18.81.
Also competing in the elite division on day three was freshman Carolina Visca in the javelin. Making her collegiate debut, Visca threw the spear 46.53m, which places her at third in program history.
While this mark landed Visca in the record books, she ended in a low 12th-place finish. Visca, who is used to throwing in the 50m range, seemed to be having to have an off day.
The other elite thrower for Cal was senior Anna Purchase, who placed second in the hammer throw with 69.97m. Repeating the outcome of the Brutus Hamilton Invitational, former Bear Camryn Rogers took first place with a massive toss of 77.84m.
Cal women’s only elite jumper was sophomore Toby Lai in the high jump. Lai put up a personal best and a tie for sixth in Cal history with a height of 1.78m.
A notable performance by the men in the elite bracket was seen in the discus. Sophomore Mykolas Alekna continued his impressive campaign with a heave of 68.35m, earning him the third-farthest throw in NCAA history.
While these elite athletes did well for themselves, the Bears competing in the collegiate section truly made blue and gold history.
One of these athletes was senior Amari Turner in the pole vault, tying the school record with a height of 4.30m. Turner’s jump was a huge improvement from her mark of 4.00m at last year’s meet.
“This weekend it was just really (about) being able to jump at those high bars and having enough energy to really focus on my technique and actually getting vertical and turning earlier, which is a big issue in my vault,” said Turner. “For that jump I just decided to really rely on my technique … and not panic at the bar — that’s what was able to get me over that bar.”
Despite Mt. SAC’s intimidating reputation, for Turner, it was just another competition. Competing in this meet since high school, Mt. SAC has “always felt like a really familiar meet” for Turner. Though she knew she had stiff competition in section A, she was “excited to compete with girls that jump super high,” as it forces a new level of competitiveness.
In the men’s pole vault, senior Skyler Magula improved upon his personal best set at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational. On his third attempt, Magula cleared the bar at a height of 5.55m, which moved him up to tie teammate Tyler Burns for third in Cal history.
Joining Turner in the record books was senior Kegan Schroeter in the hammer throw. Surpassing a 37-year-old school record, Schroeter threw for 70.21m on his fourth attempt. After taking the No. 2 spot in Cal history earlier this season, owning the school record was surely in Schroeter’s future.
Competing against the world and NCAA best, the Bears proved their worth. With a rare break in the schedule, the team will now not compete until the Big Meet on April 29. As the Bears make their way into the postseason, more athletes will look to qualify for the NCAA West Preliminary competition. Every meet and training block counts as the Bears enter crunch time.