California Track and Field Travels to MPSF Championships in Seattle

Feb. 22, 2006

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The California Golden Bears track and field teams will return to the track to compete at the MPSF Championships in Seattle, Wash., on Feb. 24-25. Last time on the track, California faced off at the Husky Classic and the Tyson Invitational. The Golden Bears broke several school records and advanced several more qualifiers to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 10-11.

The MPSF Championships will be held at the Dempsey Indoor in Seattle, Wash., on Feb. 27-28. Eleven of the West's top track and field programs participate in MPSF Championships competition in indoor track and field, including nine men's teams and 11 women's teams. The list is comprised of members of the Big West and Pac-10 Conferences, and includes eight of the Pac-10's nine track and field programs. The California women's squad should contend heavily with Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA. California women will be the strongest in the triple jump, long jump, 800m and both relays. On the men's side the Bears will battle clear favorites UCLA and Oregon for the title. In last year's competition, four points separated the top four men's teams. The men look to shine in the heptathlon, 3000m and both relays. Several athletes at the MPSF will also be competing for the first time in events this season. Junior Giliat Ghebray will run the 5000m, aiming to hit the NCAA automatic qualifying standard and sophomore Brook Turner will run in the 400m.

The meet will match up the Golden Bears men and women against some of the best competition in the west: Arizona (m/w), Arizona State (m/w), Cal Poly (w), Long Beach State (m/w), Oregon (m/w), Stanford (m/w), UC Irvine (w), UCLA (m/w), Washington (m/w) and Washington State (m/w).

The California women's indoor team has been ranked in the USTFCCCA Poll as high as No. 16 twice this season. The women's were ranked preseason No. 10 by Trackwire. The men's team has not been ranked in either poll this season.

The 2005 indoor season propelled the California women's team to national prominence. In the span of the MPSF Championships, the Bears broke eight school records. Chole Jarvis broke the 800m record held by Louise Romo with her time of 2:06.56. With help from Jarvis and others the women's team finished second. On the men's side, the Golden Bears throwers helped the men's team finish fourth. The throwers finished the competition in first, second, sixth and seventh.

Several individuals on the California men's and women's track and field squad hail from the state of Washington, the site of this year's MPSF Championships. Freshman Jake Hanson and sophomores Alex and Andy McClary all are Washington natives and will compete this weekend. Between the three of them, they won their fair share of state titles in high school. Sophomore Craig Kent and freshman Nate Rolfe also are from Washington, but are redshirting the indoor season.

Senior Lindsay Maclise broke her own Cal indoor school record at the Husky Classic on Feb. 11. Maclise previously had set the record in Seattle at the 2005 MPSF Championships with her time of 4:50.22. A year later she shaved off three tenths of a second to break the record with her new time of 4:50.19. However, Maclise was three seconds shy of earning a provisional qualifying mark with her school record time. Maclise's time ranks her ninth on the 2006 MPSF Indoor Track final best marks list.

After earning All-American honors in her first season as a Golden Bear, sophomore Alysia Johnson is just warming up. The native of Canyon County, Calif., ran for the first time in the 800m at the Husky Classic. Johnson was clocked at 2:07.37, good enough for eighth place and a provisional qualifying mark. The time ranks her fifth on the 2006 MPSF Indoor Track final best marks list.

After she already broke the school indoor recorded in her first collegiate meet, freshman Inika McPherson rewrote the record in Fayetteville, Ark., at the Tyson Invitational. McPherson was marked at 5-10.75. This is the second-best mark in the MPSF conference this season. McPherson previously owned an indoor school record of 5-10 set at the Modrall Sperling Invitational on Jan. 21.

Once again, senior Antonette Carter broke another record during her career at Cal. At the Tyson Invitational Carter finished 10th in the 200m, however she broke her previous record (24.08) set Arizona-California Challenge, with her time of 24.02 at the meet. Carter also has broken her own 60m record (7.54) set in 2004, with her new time of 7.33 at the Arizona-California Challenge. Carter ranks No. 2 in the 60m and No. 4 in the 200m on the 2006 MPSF conference best marks list.

Junior high jumper Teak Wilburn has eased perfectly back into competition. Wilburn tied with the defending national champion USC's Jesse Williams at the Tyson Invitational. He was marked at 7-3.75 in the high jump, the season-best jump in the MPSF conference in 2006. This mark is also a new indoor school record for Wilburn, who broke his own record of 7-2.50 he set in 2004.

Senior Osarhiemen Omwanghe easily won her preliminary round in the 60m hurdles (8.46) at the Husky Classic. However she was neck and neck with Arizona's Jennifer Whitlock, who finished second in the preliminaries. In the finals Whitlock beat Omwanghe by three mil-a-seconds in the race. Omwanghe however set her personal-best mark in the event with her time of 8.31, the fourth-best mark in the MPSF conference this season. Not only was it her personal best, but also a new indoor school record. Omwanghe broke her own previous record of 8.33 she set at the Arizona-California Challenge.

Sophomore Alex McClary was clocked at his season-best time of 1:49.92 in the 800m at the Husky Classic on Feb. 11. The Shelton, Wash., native also broke his own previous school record of 1:50.94 from last year's Cougar Classic with his time in Seattle. This time is the season-best time in the MPSF conference this season.

For the first time this season, the Golden Bears distance runners competed in the 3000m at the Husky Classic. All four competitors, junior Giliat Ghebray (7:58.46), freshman Mark Matusak (8:08.98), senior Kevin Davis (8:10.32) and freshman Jake Schmitt (8:21.30) all recorded their personal-best marks in the event. Ghebray's time was the only provisional qualifying mark out of the bunch and the third-best time this season in the event in the MPSF conference.

California is off to a hot start. The team has already rewritten several of the school's indoor records. Senior Antonette Carter set school records in the 60m (7.33) at the Arizona-California Challenge and the 200m (24.02) at the Tyson Invitational. Senior Osarhiemen Omwanghe broke the 60 hurdles record with her time of 8.31 at the Husky Classic. Omwanghe had set the previous 60m hurdles' record two weeks prior. Also at the Husky Classic, senior Lindsay Maclise broke the school record in the mile a time of 4:50.19 and sophomore Alex McClary broke his own indoor record in the 800m after he was clocked at 1:49.92 in Seattle. At the UW Indoor Invitational, both the men's (9:42.31) and women's (11:30.10) distance medley teams set new school records. Junior Teak Wilburn broke the indoor high jump, with his 7-3.75 from the Tyson Invitational.

In five meets so far this indoor season, seven Golden Bears and a relay team have each qualified for a spot in the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 10-11. Senior Antonette Carter (60m), senior Osarhiemen Omwanghe (60m hurdles), freshman Inika McPherson (high jump), sophomore Cassandra Strickland (triple jump), junior Teak Wilburn (high jump), sophomore Alysia Johnson (800m), freshman Mackenzie Pierce (800m), junior Giliat Ghebray (3000m) and the distance medley team of sophomores Alex and Andy McClary, freshmen Mark Matusak and Jake Hanson all will travel to the championships.

In the recent issue of Track and Field News, the magazine previewed collegiate athletes. On the Cal women's side senior Antonette Carter ranked No. 8 in the 100m, No. 12 in the 200m and No. 4 in the long jump. Sophomore Alysia Johnson was ranked No. 16 in the 800m, while freshman Inika McPherson was ranked No. 4 in the high jump and was given the nod for top freshman in the nation. For the men, junior Paul Teinart was ranked No. 5 in the javelin and junior Teak Wilburn ranks No. 7 in the high jump.

The Golden Bear have several athletes who are competing in track and another varsity sport at Cal. Freshman sprinter Angie Pressey is also a member of the volleyball team, which appeared in the NCAA tournament this past season. Football stars Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Brandon Hampton will all compete in the indoor season before spring football begins in late March.

After successfully competing as a Golden Bears athlete in the early 1990's, Chris Huffins returned to Cal Oct. 16, 2002, as Director and Head Coach of the Men's and Women's Track and Field and Cross Country programs. In the last three years, the Huffins-led Bears have sent more athletes to the NCAA Championships than in any other three-year span (12 in 2003,13 in 2004, and 15 in 2005), and he has overseen 14 All-American honors. Huffins has also witnessed Cal school history books rewritten, as there have been 12 new Cal school records and six new freshman records set, which bodes very well for the future. Most impressively, Huffins saw five current Golden Bears compete at the 2004 Olympic Trials in Sacramento, Calif. In 2005, two of Huffins' athletes were ranked in the top 10 in the country by Track and Field News. Antonette Carter was ranked No. 8 in the long jump and Paul Teinert ranked ninth in the javelin. Huffins has seen the team dramatically improve its conference position since he inherited the program. The women have had their highest Pac-10 team finish in history two years in a row, finishing in fifth place at the conference championships in 2004 and 2005, up four places from 2003. The Golden Bears men's team has moved up to seventh, in the tough Pac-10 conference, having weathered a few key injuries over the last two years. Indoors however, the men have been second and third in the last two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, a success they will surely build upon in 2006. Indeed both the Bears track squads look to win the indoor conference title this coming year. Huffins has also nurtured the development of the true student-athlete, evidenced by more than 60 Pac-10 All-Academic honors that his athletes have earned since 2003. The future looks bright for Huffins and his Golden Bears, as the 2004 incoming freshman recruiting class was recently ranked No. 1 and the 2005 class was ranked No. 5 in the country, by Track & Field News. Prior to taking the reigns at Cal, Huffins as an assistant coach for six years.Huffins is assisted by Ed Miller (field events-multi-events), Tony Sandoval (head cross country coach), Phil McMullen (pole vault-high jump-multi events), Bryan Fetzer (sprints-hurdles) and Jennifer Joyce (throws).

The California track and field athletes who qualified (either provisional and/or automatic qualifiers) for the NCAA Indoor Championships will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the competition on March 10-11.

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