Three Bears Advance to NCAA National Meet

May 28, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas - Three Golden Bears - juniors Steve Sodaro and Connor Landry and freshman Alima Kamara - punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships in Oregon with outstanding performances at the NCAA West Preliminary meet Friday in Austin, Texas.

Sodaro, the Pac-10 champion in the 3000-meter steeplechase when he ran a PR 8:40.60, captured his qualifying heat with a time of 8:51.55 to earn a berth at the national meet. His time was third overall among the 48 runners.

Running in the second of two heats, Sodaro edged Texas-El Paso's Nicodemus Ng'etich, who was second in 8:51.93, and John Sullivan of Stanford, who placed third in 8:52.50. All three runners advanced to nationals.

Landry cleared 17-2.75 in the pole vault to secure the 10th qualifying spot for the national meet. After passing on the opening two heights, Landry was good on his first attempt at 16-8.75. He moved along on his second try at 17-0.75 before making good on his first attempt at 17-2.75. The height was one inch off his outdoor career best.

A transfer from Cal Poly where he was a two-time Big West champion in the pole vault, Landry's previous PR heading into this season was 16-6.75. During the 2010 indoor season, he established his lifetime best of 17-5.50, and he is the first Cal pole vaulter to reach nationals since Robert McLean in 2002.

Kamara produced a nearly one-second PR to earn her place on the roster for Eugene, finishing her quarterfinal race in the 400 meters in 52.75, which was fifth in her heat. The top three finishers from each of three heats earned automatic bids, with the next three fastest times also advancing. Kamara ranked second among the three fastest at-large times.

Entering the preliminary meet, Kamara's previous best in the 400 was 53.68 seconds set during the Brutus Hamilton Invitational April 24 in Berkeley. She ran 54.02 in the NCAA opening round Friday to put her in the quarterfinals - the 20th-best time in the field. Friday's time was the 11th fastest of the day and put her at No. 10 on Cal's all-time performers list in the 400. The mark was also just shy of the Cal freshman record of 52.53 set by Latasha Gilliam in 1996.

Freshman Sophia Oberg missed advancing by the narrowest of margins, coming in 13th in the women's 800 meters in 2:06.22. The 12th and final spot to the national meet went to Air Force senior Ally Romanko, who was timed in 2:06.13, just 0.09 seconds faster than Oberg.

Brian Carmichael also had a close call in the men's high jump, tying for 14th at 6-11.00. A total of 10 jumpers finished with a best of 6-11, including five who are going to Eugene, but Carmichael didn't advance due to having more misses than others in the competition.

In the women's long jump, Malaina Payton soared into the sand for a leap of 20-0.25 on her first attempt to break the Cal freshman record of 20-0.00 set by Sheila Hudson in 1986. Unfortunately, the effort did not get her to Oregon as she finished in 16th place.

Cherrelle Garrett, a two-time qualifier for nationals in the 100 meters, was unable to move through her quarterfinal race, finishing 20th overall in 11.83 seconds. In addition, freshman Cody Schmidt was 41st in the steeplechase in 9:18.67.

Twelve qualifiers from each event at the NCAA West Preliminary meet advance to the national meet June 9-12 in Eugene, Ore. For multi-event athletes in the decathlon and heptathlon, the top 24 on the national list received automatic berths, a group that includes Cal junior Mike Morrison, who ranks seventh in the country in the decathlon.

The Bears will attempt to get additional national qualifiers on the final day of the preliminary meet Saturday. More information on Cal's complete list of entries can be found here.

NCAA West Preliminary Rounds
Mike A. Myers Stadium - University of Texas - Austin, Texas
Friday, May 28, 2010

Complete Results

Cal Results

3000-meter Steeplechase - 3. Steve Sodaro 8:51.55Q; 41. Cody Schmidt 9:18.67

High Jump - 14. Brian Carmichael 6-11.00 (2.11m)

Pole Vault - 10. Connor Landry 17-2.75 (5.25m)Q

Hammer - Miles Palacios NM

100 meters - 20. Cherrelle Garrett 11.83

400 meters - 11. Alima Kamara 52.75Q

800 meters - 13. Sofia Oberg 2:06.22

Long Jump - 16. Malaina Payton 20-0.25 (6.10m)*

Q - qualified for NCAA national meet in Eugene, Ore.
* - Cal freshman record