Cal to Compete in MPSF Championships

Feb. 22, 2005

Berkeley, CA -

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Date	Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 24-26, 2005Place	Seattle, WATime	All Day

The MPSF Indoor Track and Field championships will feature squads from Washington, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona and Washington State along with five more schools from outside of the Pac-10. The competition starts on Thursday with the multi-events and continues through Saturday. For the second year in a row, the meet is being held at the Dempsey Indoor Facility at the University of Washington. The track features a Mondo surface in an oversized 300m configuration with flat turns and an artificial turf infield.

This year, the men's team qualified 28 athletes for the MPSF championships, but will only be bringing 26 due to injuries. On the women's side, a total of 20 athletes qualified, bringing the total size of the travel squad to 48.

Cal returns two of its MPSF champions from the 2004 meet. Senior Chloe Jarvis won the 800m last year in Seattle, beating her field by almost a full second in 2:08.57 after running a confident and relaxed preliminary race the day before. Brooke Meredith beat out her field in the women's pentathlon and built on the proud tradition of Cal multi-eventers. Meredith would later earn All-America honors at both the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships. Junior Osarhieman Omwanghe has qualified for the NCAA championships in the 60mH and has been dominating her event all season long. Look for her to lower her personal record against stiff competition from Dawn Harper of UCLA and Ashley Lodree of Washington. With only a few athletes ranked highly in their events, the women's squad will have to look to volume scoring from sequential finishes as opposed to winning events outright. Last year the Bears finished sixth.

Last year, the men's team finished second, only 19 points behind UCLA. This was the highest finish ever at the indoor conference championship for the men's team, an auspicious start for then-second year coach Chris Huffins. In that meet, the men's team only managed to win one event. High jumper Teak Wilburn, who is redshirting this season, was the sole win in the high jump, with teammate Dave Glasgow in second. Senior Rhuben Williams placed second last year in the weight throw and is ranked first in the conference this year with teammate Nate Rolfe in second. Sophomore Darren Woods, whose primary event is the 400m, is actually ranked in the top three for both the 60m and the 200m, while only being ranked 8th in the 400m. The Bears will look to Woods, for points on the track all day as he will be integral to the relay, as well. Sophomore Thomas Mack will be a force in the 60mH, where he is ranked third, and on the relay. Finally senior Toby Atawo, who was the 2003 MPSF champion in the 200m, will look to be a factor after struggling with injury for much of the time since. Ultimately, the Bears plan to earn the bulk of their points in the throws, where it will be important to steal points from UCLA, a school that has had traditionally strong throwers.

Last year, at the MPSF championships in Seattle, graduated senior Bruce Giron showed a competitive mettle that head coach Chris Huffins can only hope his athletes this year will be able to replicate. A triple jumper with the stamina of a long sprinter, Giron filled in on the 4x400m relay between his third and fourth jumps on the runway. The double is remarkable enough, except that Giron ran the second fastest leg on the Cal relay squad that day. Returning to the triple jump, Giron broke his personal record on his final jump, recording an NCAA provisional qualifying mark and moving himself from third to second place. The outdoor season would see the addition of the 400mH for a trifecta that would come to be known among Cal athletes as the 'Bruce Giron Special.' Giron has since taken up the decathlon, which includes none of the events he was previously involved with.

This year's top-ranked freshman recruiting class features four athletes from the state of Washington. Counting Tacoma native, sophomore Darren Woods, the men's team has five underclassmen with 12 state titles between them, all from Washington. Among them Craig Kent (Freshman-Throws), Alex McClary (Freshman-Distance),Andy McClary (Freshman-Distance) and Nathan Rolfe (Freshman-Throws). The athletes have already traveled back to their home state once this season for the Cougar Indoor Invitational where they all notched at least one win, while three of them set facility records. This group will be critical in the Golden Bears chances for a win at Seattle this weekend.

Every Saturday in February, the Bears will host an all comers track & field meet at the University of California's world class Edwards Stadium and Goldman Field. All events begin at 11 a.m., except the hammer, which starts at 9 a.m. The meet is open to age group, high school, open and senior athletes. Golden Bear athletes who do not travel those weekends will be on hand to participate. The track and runways are tartan and only 1/4' spikes will be allowed. The events will be grouped according to gender and ability level. The entry for athletes is $5 and admission for spectators is $2 per person.

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