Johnson, Hallgrimsson Travel to NCAA Indoor Championship

March 7, 2006

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The California Golden Bears track and field is off to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 10-11. Sophomore Alysia Johnson and junior Jonas Hallgrimsson will both make the truck to Arkansas.

In six indoor meets season, 10 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), senior Kevin Davis (mile), 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. To qualify to go to the NCAA Championship you have to make it into the top 25 nationally in your event. Alysia Johnson scored an automatic time in the 800m. Jonas Hallgrimsson's points in the heptathlon qualified him for the NCAA Indoor Championship.

The NCAA Indoor Championships will bring together a host of exceptional track and field athletes at the Randal Tyson Track Center on the Arkansas campus. The Randal Tyson Track Center has become the crowning jewel of indoor track and field in the United States. One of the best indoor facilities in the world, the Tyson Center has been the home of the NCAA Men's and Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships since its completion in the winter of 2000. The six-lane banked oval has been touted by insiders and the casual fan as perhaps the fastest indoor track in the world thanks to its steep curves and long straight-a-ways, and the numbers back it up as 11 of 20 NCAA Championship running records have been broken on its surface. The Tyson Center's field events are conducted inside the banked oval and have also been the host to numerous records. Elevated runways and firm take-off areas give athletes their best chance for success and have been contributors to an additional five NCAA Championship records. While the Tyson Center provides exceptional surfaces to compete on, what sometimes is overlooked until the major competitions is the environment surrounding the competition area. More than 5,000 seats are provided for spectators who visit the arena and each is filled during major championships.

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

Last season eight Golden Bears posted provisional qualifying marks. In the end only two ended up in Arkansas at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Chloe Jarvis in the 800m and Rhuben Williams in the shot put. Both of the seniors finished in 13th place at the NCAA and earned All-American credentials. The season before, two only went - Brooke Meredith in the pentathlon and Teak Wilburn in the high jump. Wilburn finished ninth and Meredith finished third as she broke the Cal school record in the pentathlon.

The Pac-10 conference has several contenders in each event at the NCAA Championships: some include, UCLA's Brandon Johnson in the 400m, Arizona's Robert Cheseret in the 3000m and Sean Shields in the shot put and Oregon's Eric Mitchum in the 60m hurdles and Tommy Skipper in the pole vault. On the women's side other Pac-10 athletes in the NCAA Championships include, USC's Virginia Powell in the 60m and 60m hurdles, Stanford's Janice Davis in the 200m and Arianna Lambie in the mile, UCLA's Chelsea Johnson in the pole vault and Arizona State's Sarah Stevens.

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 Alex Wilson Invitational after he was clocked at 1:49.71 in South Bend, Ind. 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 Chloe Jarvis 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).

Alyisa Johnson has opened up her sophomore track season right where she left off last season. The Canyon Country, Calif., native posted a 2:07.68 in the 800m at the Husky Classic in early February. The time was provisional qualifying time. Johnson regained her speed for the MPSF Championship posting a new school record in the 800m of 2:05.52. Her personal best in the event is 2:05.49.

Junior Jonas Hallgrimsson battled back from injury last season to place third at the MPSF Championship on Feb. 25 in the heptathlon this year. Hallgrimsson collected 5429 points at the meet. He posted his season bests in almost all the categories; 13.45m (44-01.50) in the shot put, 7.03m (23-00.75) in the long jump, 2.00m (6-06.75) in the high jump, 8.64 in the 60m hurdles and 7.53 in the 60m. He collected his season best, 4.25m (13-11.25) in the pole vault at the UW Indoor Invitational on Jan. 28.

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. Prior to this season, 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 was 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 team will open its outdoor season with its annual home meet the Bay Area Blast Off on March 18, 2006. The meet will be held at Edwards Stadium.

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