California Track and Field Travels to Alex Wilson Invite

Feb. 28, 2006

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The California Golden Bears track and field teams will compete at the Notre Dame Alex Wilson Invitational on March 3-4 in South Bend, Ind. The Bears just returned from a successful trip to the MPSF Championships. The women placed third and the men finished seventh at the meet. Eight school records were broken, including a 22-year-old 800m record. After the meet at Notre Dame, Cal is off to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 10-11.

The Notre Dame Alex Wilson Invitational will be held at the Loftus Sports Center on the Notre Dame campus. The Loftus Center features a 320-meter Mondo track. Pole vault and horizontal jumps are contested on raised runways on the turf infield. The high jump is contested on a Mondo platform. The throws will be contested on a wooden circle on the turf field. This is an NCAA sanctioned last chance meet with its focus primarily on providing an opportunity for athletes to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

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.

Freshman Mackenzie Pierce set her provisional qualifying mark of 2:07.37 (personal best) at the Husky Classic on Feb. 11 in Seattle. Now Pierce wants to earn her automatic bid to the NCAA Championships at the Alex Wilson Invitational. The automatic time is 2:06.10. Pierce again was clocked close to her personal best at 2:08.24, which won her heat in the prelims of the MPSF Championships.

After a successful outdoor season last year, sophomore Cassandra Strickland wants to add an indoor championship to her resume. The triple jumper set her personal-best mark of 42-09.75 (13.05m) at the Arizona-California Challenge (Jan. 27). The mark was a provisional qualifier.

After breaking the school indoor high jump record 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. 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 MPSF Championships Carter broke the 200m record in the prelims with her time of 23.84. On Saturday, she rewrote the record with the new school record of 23.81. A few weeks prior at the Tyson Invitational, Carter finished 10th in the 200m, however she broke her previous record (24.08) set at the Arizona-California Challenge, with her time of 24.02 at the Tyson Invitational. 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.

Sophomore Ed Wright is looking to advance to the NCAA Indoor Invitational in the high jump. Wright nailed his season-best mark of 2.13m (6-11.75) at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 11. He was not far off his personal-best of 2.14m (7-00.25). The provisional qualifying mark in the men's high jump is 2.17.

Senior Osarhiemen Omwanghe 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.

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 (23.81) at the MPSF Championship. 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. Senior Bridget Duffy broke the school record in the mile (4:49.04) and in the 3000m (9:39.26) at the MPSF Championships and sophomore Alex McClary broke his own indoor record in the 800m at the Husky Classic after he was clocked at 1:49.92 in Seattle. At the UW Indoor Invitational, the Cal men's distance medley team broke the school record (9:42.31) and women's (11:28.96) distance medley teams set new school record at the MPSF Championships. Junior Teak Wilburn broke the indoor high jump, with his 7-3.75 from the Tyson Invitational. Sophomores Alysia Johnson broke a 22-year old record in the 800m at the MPSF Championships with her time of 2:05.52 and Rebecca Yau set a new school record in the 5000m after she was clocked at 16:52.66. Also at the MPSF Championships, junior Giliat Ghbray set a new school record in the 3000m (14:13.60).

In five meets so far this indoor season, nine Golden Bears and two relay teams 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), Jonas Halgrimsson (heptathlon), the men's distance medley team of sophomores Alex and Andy McClary, freshmen Mark Matusak and Jake Hanson and the women's 4 x 400m relay team of Omwanghe, Alysia Johnson, sophomore Brook Tuner and Pierce 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.

After successfully competing as a Golden Bears athlete in the early 1990s, 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 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 2004 and 2005 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships. 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, was the 2004 incoming freshman recruiting class was 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 for the NCAA Indoor Championships will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the competition on March 10-11.