Cal Sends Six Athletes to NCAA Championships
May 23, 2002
CAL TRAVELS TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Six Cal athletes travel to Baton Rouge, La., May 29-June 1 to compete in the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. They are seniors Jennifer Joyce (hammer, discus), Erin Belger (800m), Missy Vanek (heptathlon), Marielle Schlueter (3000mSC), Bubba McLean (pole vault) and junior Sheni Russell (discus). Louisiana State serves as host of this year's championships. USC won the 2001 women's title and Tennessee claimed the men's trophy.
BEARS NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY:
In 2001, the Cal men finished 22nd at the NCAA Championships with 12 points, eight from Bolota Asmerom (5000m, 2nd) and four from Bubba McLean (PV, 5th, then-PR of 17-10.5). The Bear women tied for 60th as a team with their only two points coming from Maria Lopez (PV, 7th). Cal's highest men's finish at NCAAs was second in 1943 and 1959, while its highest women's was 11th in 1987 and 1990.
2002 PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS IN REVIEW:
Cal had a disappointing Pac-10 Championships with the women finishing eighth with 44 points and the men a program worst of ninth with 22 points. As with most of the season, the Bear men didn't have many of their marquee athletes available due to injuries (i.e. Robert Kennedy (long jump) and Rhuben Williams (shot put, hammer) ). While the Bears regularly posted a ton of PRs each week during the season, they didn't perform at their best at Pac-10s, tallying a combined five PRs. The Stanford men and the UCLA women repeated as champions.
JOYCE WINS ELUSIVE PAC-10 HAMMER TITLE:
Jennifer Joyce won the Cal women's first individual conference title in two years with her victory in the hammer. Joyce started out slowly with fouls on her first two throws and didn't win the event until a mark of 204-1 on her final throw. The Canadian and Cal record holder finished second in the hammer as a freshman and sophomore at Pac-10s and third as a junior. Joyce enters the NCAA Championships No. 2 in the hammer (214-0) and No. 7 in the discus (178-3). This is the fourth-straight year Joyce will be competing in the NCAA hammer competition. She earned All-America honors for her fourth-place showing in 2000.
BELGER PURSUES 800M NATIONAL TITLE:
The daughter of national collegiate 800m champions, Erin Belger has had a lot of pressure to excel in track and field. For the first time, Belger has qualified for the 800m at NCAAs with the fifth-fastest time in the country (2:04.39), which is second all-time at Cal. Erin's mother, Sue (Vigil - maiden name), won the 800m title at the 1979 AIAW nationals for New Mexico with Cal coach Tony Sandoval as her coach. Her father, Mark, claimed the 1979 NCAA 800m title at Villanova.
MCLEAN, VANEK LOOK TO REPEAT AS ALL-AMERICANS:
Bubba McLean and Missy Vanek are each competing in their second NCAA Championships and are looking to repeat as All-Americans. McLean, who earned All-America honors for his fifth-place finish in the pole vault last season, qualified for nationals this year by tying for the fifth-best mark in the nation (18-0.5). He is one of three Cal athletes to ever clear 18 feet in the pole vault. Vanek garnered All-America honors in the heptathlon in 2000 by placing third (PR: 5614). She has the sixth-best qualifying point total in 2002 at 5498. She was forced to pull out of the Pac-10 meet after re-injuring her hamstring during the high jump warm-up.
RUSSELL, SCHLUETER, EARN FIRST NCAA SELECTIONS:
Marielle Schlueter and Sheni Russell are competing in their first ever NCAA Championships. Schlueter set the Cal record in the 3000mSC at 10:22.38, which was enough to qualify her for NCAAs with the 20th-best time. Russell qualified in the discus at No. 15 (174-7), which ranks her fifth all-time at Cal.