There is nothing better than good old-fashioned competition. This Saturday, Big Meet energy radiated throughout the track and the stands of Edwards Stadium. The meet marked both teams’ last meet of the regular season, and the athletes certainly showed up.
The men’s division saw a 99-64 win for the Bears and the women with a 87-76 victory.
The day started off with a bang in the form of the hammer throw. To the surprise of none, senior Anna Purchase brought it home with a launch of 69.69m good for first place. Purchase proved resilient and determined as she achieved her best throw on her fifth attempt.
Earning first place for the men was senior Kegan Schroeter. Like Purchase, Schroeter found success on his fifth attempt with a distance of 68.15m.
However, the most monumental performances from Cal throws came from sophomore Mykolas Alekna and freshman Carolina Visca.
Last year, Alekna set a Big Meet record of 67.68m in the discus. This seemed impressive at the time, but on Saturday, Alekna proved this record to be insignificant. Taking on the circle, Alekna threw the ball an astounding 71.00m. His achievement at a new meet record was the least impressive result as his throw now stands as the collegiate record. Alekna now stands as the youngest male athlete to ever surpass 70m.
In the javelin, Visca achieved first place and the school record with a throw of 52.41m. Visca’s win was Cal’s first Big Meet win in the javelin in 19 years.
“It was amazing,” said Visca. “I have just come out from a bad injury to my elbow and I didn’t expect this throw today, but it was so good (and) it was my first Big Meet — it was one of my favorite competitions for sure.”
Visca’s performance marked a huge improvement from her collegiate debut at Mt. Sac Relays earlier this month where she reached a distance of 46.53m.
“Mt. Sac was a good competition, but I wasn’t so good,” said Visca. “I wasn’t able to figure out what to do during a big competition like that and it was also my first competition after an injury and after seven months without competing. Today, I was able to improve a little bit more and I hope to do better during the Pac-12.”
Going into the Pac-12 Championships, Visca said she will be focused on improving technical skills as she continues to hone her craft. The eager freshman said she “can’t wait” for the championships.
Though the throwing squad racked in the points, the Bears’ sweep can be accredited to more than throws.
Junior Claire Yerby set a meet record in the 1,500m when she crossed the finish line in 4:16.41. Re-claiming the record for the blue and gold, Yerby slashed Stanford’s Jessica Tonn 2015 record by almost two seconds.
In the men’s iteration of the event, junior Garrett MacQuiddy faced the mighty Stanford distance trio — Ky Robinson, Charles Hicks and Cole Sprout. Robinson took the race in 3:45.64 while MacQuiddy claimed second coming in at 3:45.83.
Despite these stellar performances, teams are more than individual athletes. The rest of the Bears’ distance squad was unable to keep up with the Cardinal. In the men’s and women’s 3,000m and 800m, the Bears did not place a single runner in the top three.
Taking on the short distances, though, Cal sprinters found ample success.
Breaking a 17 year old meet record was the women’s 4x100m relay squad with a finish of 44.23. The Cal men also achieved first place in the 4x100m. With a time of 39.98, the men were just 0.28 off from the 1970 meet record.
The Cal women also saw first place finishes in the 100m hurdles, 100m and 200m. While the men finished first in the 110m hurdles, 400m, 400m hurdles 200m and 4x400m relay.
Despite the sweep, Stanford was not wholly immune from success.
Cardinal sophomore Maya Valmon broke a 17 year old meet record in the 400m with her time of 52.07. Stanford sprinters saw additional first place finished in the women’s 400m hurdles and the men’s 100m.
In the men’s pole vault, the Cardinals took first and second place from Cal senior Skyler Magula who ended in third. Magula’s highest mark of the day, 5.31m, was a disappointment given his strong record this season. Although Magula has achieved marks this season that surpass the meet record of 5.49m, he was unable to put up a winning mark this weekend.
After the last event of the day, the Bears engaged in a slew of celebratory activities. “This is bear territory” echoed through the stadium while athletes could be seen sweeping a broom to signify the teams’ win. Players were even caught jumping into the steeplechase water pit.
Now, the Bears enter the long-awaited postseason. While students prepare for finals, Cal track and field will focus on the next task ahead — the Pac-12 championships. After this weekend’s accomplishments, the Bears are on track for a successful post season.