Bears Take Third, Sixth; Alekna Betters Collegiate Record
EUGENE, OREGON – California track & field finished off an unbelievable weekend at the Pac-12 Championships with a sensational third day of competition, adding more top-tier performances to arguably its best-ever conference championship showing. The women made a splash with an 82-point total that earned them third place, while the men accumulated 85 points for sixth place in the field. In all, it was a day of "first-evers" for Cal, who advanced three to the men's discus finals (for the first time), three to the women's triple jump finals (for the first time) and had three compete in the women's 100m dash (for the first time).
Like the shot putters before them, Cal's men went 1-3-5 in the discus throw, capped by freshman Mykolas Alekna's new collegiate record (and age-19 world record) of 68.73m/225-6 that bettered his mark of 67.68m (222-0) from the Big Meet two weeks prior. With this, Alekna becomes the undisputed greatest thrower in collegiate history, passing UCLA's Julian Wruck's 2013 exhibition throw of 68.16m. Alekna is the first Golden Bear to win the conference discus title since Ramon Jimenez-Gaona's 1992 win. Meanwhile, Iffy Joyner joined Alekna on the podium with a third-place effort of 56.61m (185-8) to score six points for Cal, as Josh Johnson followed up Saturday's shot put victory with a fifth-place (and personal-best) throw of 55.97m (183-7) to add another four points.
The Bears also scored in seven more events on the men's side. Jai Williams smashed his former personal best in the high jump to take third place in the contest, leaping to a height of 2.11m (6-11). Hakim McMorris followed up his PR in the 110m hurdles preliminary with a time of 14.26 in the final, good for fifth place, while the 4x100m squad of Kamau Carlisle, George Monroe, Mason Mangum and David Foster tied for the seventh-fastest time in program history with a combined fifth-place 39.91. Will Sornberger (sixth place, 51.85), Moises Medrano (sixth place, 1:50.80) and Garrett MacQuiddy (eighth place 3:41.33) contributed points in the 400m hurdles, 800m run and 1500m run, respectively; however, perhaps the most impressive track performance from the men came in the 4x400m relay, as the quartet of Hakim McMorris, Josh Keller, Will Sornberger and Henry Larkin blazed to a combined time of 3:07.20 to win the first heat by over two seconds and finish fifth overall to close out the meet.
For the women, Ezinne Abba raised more than a few eyebrows from casual fans and track aficionados alike, taking second place in both the 100m dash (11.13) and the 200m dash (22.91) and contributing to a fourth-place scoring finish of 44.29 in the 4x100m relay with teammates Jada Hicks, Maisie Stevens and Aysha Shaheed. Joining Abba in the second-place club were Jasmine Blair in the women's discus, who threw a personal-best 57.26m (187-10) and Hawa Wague, who reached 1.76m (5-9.25) in the high jump.
Other scorers for the women included Asha Fletcher, who placed fourth in the triple jump with a leap of 12.66m (41-6.5), Busola Akinduro, who finished sixth in the same event after jumping 12.46m (40-10.5), Maisie Stevens, whose time of 11.49 earned her fifth place in the 100m dash, and Jada Hicks, who rose to third in program history with her 100m hurdles time of 13.34.
Overall, Cal concluded the weekend with three Pac-12 champions, five second-place finishes and four third-place finishes. Oregon won both the men's and women's team competitions.
"I'm over-the-top proud of (them)," said Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Robyne Johnson after the meet. "We had a full team effort and got it done both on the field and the track. Now, we'll keep grinding – it's what we do. We can't underestimate anybody."
The team certainly has its work cut out for it, despite qualifying more individuals to the NCAA West Regionals than ever before. In two weeks, the best in the West will face off in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to determine who qualifies to the biggest stage in collegiate track & field.
Day Three Results
MEN – Sixth Place, 85 Points
4x100m Relay: 5. California 39.91 (Kamau Carlisle, George Monroe, Mason Mangum, David Foster) (T7th Cal history)
1500m Run: 8. Garrett MacQuiddy 3:41.33 (7th Cal history) (PR)
Triple Jump: 9. Isaiah Shaw 14.67m/48-1.75
High Jump: 3. Jai Williams 2.11m/6-11 (PR)
Discus Throw: 1. Mykolas Alekna 68.73m/225-6 (collegiate record) (meet record) (PR); 3. Iffy Joyner 56.61m/185-8; 5. Josh Johnson 55.97m/183-7) (PR); 12. Justin Wirtz 51.80m/169-11
110m Hurdles (Final): 5. Hakim McMorris 14.26
800m Run (Final): 6. Moises Medrano 1:50.80
400m Hurdles (Final): 6. Will Sornberger 51.85 (PR)
5000m Run: 32. Xavier Court 14:46.77; 35. Gabriel Abbes 14:55.80; 36. Colin FitzGerald 15:13.44
4x400m Relay: 5. California 3:07.20 (Hakim McMorris, Josh Keller, Will Sornberger, Henry Larkin)
WOMEN – Third Place, 82 Points
Discus Throw: 2. Jasmine Blair 57.26m/187-10 (2nd Cal history) (PR); 10. Amelia Flynt 51.57m/169-2; 16. Krissy Smoot 44.72m/146-8; 21. Sara Pettinger 44.89m/147-3
4x100m Relay: 4. California (Jada Hicks, Ezinne Abba, Maisie Stevens, Aysha Shaheed) 44.29
High Jump: 2. Hawa Wague 1.76m/5-9.25; T13. Toby Lai 1.66m/5-5.25
Triple Jump: 4. Asha Fletcher 12.66m/41-6.5; 6. Busola Akinduro 12.46m/40-10.5; 9. Felicia Renelus 12.36m/40-6.75
100m Hurdles (Final): 5. Jada Hicks 13.34
100m Dash (Final): 2. Ezinne Abba 11.13; 5. Maisie Stevens 11.49; 9. Aysha Shaheed 11.83
200m Dash (Final): 2. Ezinne Abba 22.91 (2nd Cal history) (PR)
5000m Run: 17. Marea Zlatunich 16:40.14; 34. Meredith Corda 17:21.20; - Erin Archibeck DNF
4x400m Relay: 9. California 3:42.90 (Ryan Lacefield, Maisie Stevens, Jordyn Grady, Aly Conyers)
The Bears will take two weeks to further hone their skills before the qualifiers depart for the NCAA West Regionals, held this year in Fayetteville, Arkansas from May 26-28.