Competing at the Pac-12 championships, both of Cal’s teams, the men and women, took fourth place. The women’s finish was a significant achievement given that they entered into the competition ranked seventh in the conference. The men, however, were unable to reflect their second-place ranking.
As expected due to their high rankings heading into the tournament, the Washington men and Oregon women won the championships. USC took second in both divisions.
Ending the weekend, the Bears managed to achieve numerous podium finishes, including notching two Pac-12 titles.
It was none other than the Cal throwing squad that carried the team with four podium finishes. As predicted, sophomore Mykolas Alekna earned the Pac-12 discus title for the second year in a row. On his fourth attempt, Alekna threw his best launch of the day, reaching 70.40m — a winning distance that improved upon his meet record of 68.73m.
“There’s a very big maturity process with him because he’s quite young,” said assistant throws coach Mohamad Saatara. “But what he’s accomplished is historic in nature … He’s obviously quite a talented young man and he’s a very astute student of the discus. He understands his training and he understands what needs to be done.”
Coming in second place was ASU’s Turner Washington, whose best throw stood 7.48m short of Alekna. In fourth place, senior Iffy Joyner earned the Bears five points with his throw of 60.43m.
Putting up another podium finish was junior Ivar Moisander in the hammer throw for a bronze medal.
Saatara noted that Moisander has been working on the technical aspect of his game and was able to put it all together this weekend. Saatara added that he was “really proud” of Moisander for dealing with the added challenge of finals week, especially as a data science major.
The third podium achievement came from Cal senior Anna Purchase’s second-place finish in the hammer throw. While second place at a high-stakes meet is an exceptional achievement for most athletes, for Purchase, this finish was a disappointment.
Going into the competition, Purchase stood high above her opponents as the national season leader. However, competing in the circle, the senior appeared to have an off-day. With six total attempts, Purchase was unable to reach 70m. Ultimately, Purchase’s best throw was a mark of 68.38 — a far cry from her personal season’s best of 73.02m.
“(Purchase) had a rough meet, but she overcame a lot of adversity. She got a really bad cold when we traveled, so (her) physical (condition) wasn’t 100%, which led to some technical problems,” Saatra said. “But she overcame all that stuff and did a good job.”
Nonetheless, despite the unfortunate result, Purchase will have a second attempt to finish the season strong at regionals, with a chance to qualify for the national championships.
Finally, earning the throws a fourth podium finish was freshman Carolina Visca in the javelin. Visca pulled in eight points for the Bears with a second-place finish.
Producing the second Pac-12 title for the blue and gold was pole vaulting senior Skyler Magula. Continuing his stellar season, Magula was able to perform under pressure as he leapt over the bar at a height of 5.47m.
Not far behind Magula, in third place, was none other than sophomore Tyler Burns. The jumping duo have certainly made a name for themselves this season, and their showing this weekend solidified their top-notch talent.
On the track, a notable performance came from the women’s 4×100 relay squad. Racing in 43.81, the squad earned second place and a school record.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, the Bears pulled through with sophomore Di’Niko Bates achieving a third place finish. Subsequently crossing the finish line were seniors Riley Hunt in fifth and Hakim McMorris in sixth.
Junior Jada Hicks also had a successful weekend racing in a leg of the record breaking 4×100 relay squad and achieving a fourth place finish of her own in the 100m hurdles.
Now, the next challenge lies ahead as qualified athletes prepare for the NCAA West Region Championships in Sacramento, California. As the clock counts down, the stakes reach new heights for the Bears.