Cal to Cross Bay for Big Meet

April 19, 2005

Berkeley, CA -

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Date Saturday April 23, 2005Place Palo Alto, CATime 12:50 p.m.


Stanford will host Cal at Cobb Track and Angel Field for the 111th Big Meet on Saturday, April 23. The competition ranks among the nation's oldest sports rivalries and even though it was inaugurated in 1892, the same year of the first Big Game against Stanford, the the Big Game will only see its 107th gathering this year.
Field events start at 12:50 p.m. with the women's javelin, while running events begin at 2:00 p.m. with the women's 3,000SC. During the meet, the graduating seniors from both teams will be honored in a brief ceremony after the men's 5,000m and before the start of the women's 4x400m relay. The meet is scheduled to conclude at 5:30 p.m.
The meet, usually held in May, has been moved up to April and means that Stanford will not be hosting the Cardinal Invitational the night before.


The Cal women's team currently stands at No. 2 on the National Power Rankings list behind Arizona State. The ranking tabulates scores for individual athletes on a given team (two per event) and calculates a team's potential to win a dual meet based on the sum of those scores. Currently, the men's team ranks fifth overall and second in the Pac-10 behind UCLA. Neither Stanford team has submitted performances to the list and therefore has not been ranked.


Despite the comfortable rankings by both Cal teams, neither can simply expect to win as the Big Meet has a history of emotional upsets and outrageously unpredictable performances. The Cal men took back the title from Stanford in 2004 after the Cardinal ran a three year win streak from 2001-03. The loss in 2002 marked the first time Stanford had won at Cal since the 60s. Before the 2002 loss, the Cardinal beat Cal in 1997 by one point to snap a 25-year win streak by the Golden Bears. The men's series currently stands with Cal leading 64-44. On the women's side, Stanford currently leads the series 15-10 with the last four wins going to the Cardinal. The four-year drought means that none of the current athletes on the Cal women's team can boast a Big Meet win thus far.


Many athletes can expect to perform at their very best this weekend, especially given the correlation between the Big Meet records and the lifetime bests they represent for those athletes. Former Bear Bubba McLean owns the Big Meet record in the pole vault at 18-0.50 to set his lifetime best at the 2002 competition. Junior Antonette Carter set the meet record in the 100m last year. Her time of 11.53 was a lifetime best until she broke that mark at the Pac-10 championships two weeks later, running 11.49. At that same meet, junior Osarhiemen Omwange set the meet record in the 100mH and improved her lifetime best to 13.43. Both athletes will be competing Saturday. Even current Cal assistant coach Jennifer Joyce owes her collegiate best to the Big Meet. In 2002, Joyce won the hammer throw to set the Big Meet record and what would be her collegiate PR of 214-0.


Despite the meet's history of unpredictability, the coaches can certainly attempt to prognosticate where the swing points will be, but at the same time have to acknowledge that no event can be taken for granted as a win. Answering to this assertion, third-year head coach Chris Huffins acknowledges, 'I've seen people who have no business being in this meet winning events...this meet has nothing to do with talent.'
The Cal men have recently relied heavily on scoring points in the field events and sprints, while having to remit points to Stanford in the distance events. Despite the standard swing of the distance events, a truly clutch performance by just one Cal athlete in anything over 800m could severely compromise Stanford's chances of winning. At the 2004 Big Meet, then freshman David Torrence ran with a pack of six other Stanford athletes in the 1,500m to finish third, and affecting an event that Stanford has enjoyed sweeping in the past. This year, the men's team will need to see the same kind of help from freshman twins Andy McClary and Alex McClary. Both brothers have run 3:51 in the 1,500m this year with sophomore Giliat Ghebray leading them both with a time of 3:49.45 set only last weekend. In the 800m, Alex McClary has run as fast as 1:50.62, but will need to deal with 2004 Big Meet champion Joaquin Chapa, who ran 1:50.40 last year but has only produced a time of 1:51.35 so far. The points in the 800m will be critical to the men's success.
As important as upsetting Stanford on the track will be this Saturday, it will be extremely important to set the tone and build morale early on. The men can count on Senior All-American Rhuben Williams to deliver here. The men's team captain opened up last year's meet by leading a Cal sweep of the hammer throw before following that performance with a win in the shot put and a second-place finish behind teammate Kurt Seefeld in the discus. The Bears would ride the momentum into a 96-66 scrubbing of Stanford, the highest winning score by either team in 10 years.
On top of all this, the men's team will need to score strongly in the hurdles and perform admirably in the sprints and relays.

On the women's side Huffins recognizes things will be more difficult, 'Stanford is the prohibitive favorite, but there's a reason Edrick [Floreal] didn't compete his jumpers last weekend...they don't want to see Antonette [Carter] win four events.' Last year Carter won the 100m, 200m and long jump, while running on both relays. In the women's 4x100m relay, Carter received the baton behind Stanford's Ashley Purnell on the final leg. Carter would close strongly on Purnell, but came short of beating the freshman to the tape by .01. Stanford's winning time was 44.37 to Cal's 44.38. Both squads are returning the exact same relays, giving the Bears a chance to avenge the close loss.

Elsewhere on the track, the Bears will have to count on Omwange in the hurdles. Omwanghe will need to watch Stanford's Undine Becker for the potential upset in both the 100mH and the 400mH. Senior Chloe Jarvis can be relied on for a win in the 800m, but the history of the Big Meet at least means that such certainties do not exist for anyone. The women's pole vault will need to see some clutch performances, as well. Three athletes entered have vaulted 12-5.5 this, year with freshman Katie Morgan leading the group with a 13-0 vault. Last year, Cardinal Samatha Shephard won the event with a vault of 12-11.50, so expect it to be close. The remaining field events remain simply too close and too broadly contested to pick which ones could be pivotal for the outcome on the women's side.


Former Bear Peter Gillmore finished tenth at the 2005 Boston Marathon on Monday. Gilmore came across the tape at 2:17.32 and was the second highest placing American in a race that has become the premiere marathon event on American soil. Olympian Alan Culpepper was the top American finisher at 2:13.39 and finished fourth overall behind race winner Hailu Negussie of of Ethiopia in 2:11.45.

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