Eleven Mustangs entered the NCAA West Regional hosted by the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas this past weekend. The Cal Poly track and field team sent six men and five women to the stormy meet, with one athlete finishing in the Top 20 despite five postponed events.
Freshman Peyton Bilo recorded the highest place for the Mustangs, finishing 18th in the women’s 5,000-meter race. Her time of 16:43 landed 17 seconds behind Texas junior Sadie Raines, the final runner to qualify for the NCAA National Championships.
Had Bilo been able to duplicate her season-best time of 16:14 — also the fifth-best in Cal Poly history — on Saturday, she would finished fifth in the race.
Fellow freshman Katie Izzo finished the women’s 1,500-meter in 4:26, good for 25th place. Izzo’s personal-best time of 4:23 became the 10th fastest run in school history earlier this season. Those three extra seconds cost Izzo a spot within the Top 20 in Kansas.
Senior Kendal Nielsen competed in her final meet for the Mustangs on Saturday, finishing 40th with a mark of 39-6. Nielsen’s Big West Championships jump of 42 feet would have granted her an 8th place finish and a trip to the NCAA National Championships. She also entered the Cal Poly history books by claiming the No. 3 jump in school history earlier this season.
The Mustangs had two more women compete over the weekend — freshman javelin thrower Megan Mooney and sophomore high jumper Danielle Taylor.
Mooney, whose event was postponed on Thursday due to weather, finished in 34th with a throw of 146-6. She will enter next season as the returning Big West Conference champion.
Taylor had a rough showing, possibly due to unfavorable weather conditions. After seeing her event moved from Thursday to Friday as well, Taylor had to deal with the event being moved indoors. Taylor no-heighted, failing to clear the initial bar height.
Despite her performance in Kansas, Taylor’s personal-best of 5 feet, 9 inches earlier this season places her at No. 9 in school history.
Cal Poly also had six men compete, three on Friday and three on Saturday. Seniors Nick Woolf, Devin Bennett and Alex Ziebart all competed on Friday.
Woolf, a three-time Big West Conference steeplechase champion, finished the weekend in 47th place with a time of 9:31. Woolf also fell victim to unfavorable conditions, finishing 43 seconds behind his personal best run.
Woolf’s run of 8:48 earlier this season ranks as No. 6 in school history. His run would have also put him in 11th place and given him a ticket to the NCAA National Championships.
Bennett and Ziebart both competed in men’s javelin. Ziebart finished in 35th with a throw of 196-10 while Bennett finished 43rd at 180 feet, 10 inches.
Though Ziebart threw farther than Bennett, Bennett holds a higher school ranking at No. 8. His throw of 206-3 outdid Ziebart’s ninth-ranked throw of 204-9. However, despite their throws being school records, neither throw would have landed them in the regional Top 25.
Three final men competed for Cal Poly on Saturday. Juniors Arnie Sambel, Clayton Hutchins and Swarnjit Boyal represented Cal Poly in men’s discus and men’s 5,000-meter, respectively.
Sambel finished 38th, 10 places above his qualifying mark, with a throw of 161-9. Sambel will return for his senior year as a two-time regional qualifier holding the No. 4 ranked throw in school history at 175 feet.
Hutchins finished 27th in the 5,000-meter with a time of 14:33. After establishing a lead in his heat with three laps to go, he was overtaken by 15 other runners near the end. The second heat proceeded to drop Hutchins into 27th place.
Boyal, who raced in the same heat as Hutchins, finishing in 41st. His 15:20 time was 1:18 slower than his personal best.
The Mustangs finished their season with a less-than-spectacular regional performance. However, they showed glimpses of a future contender throughout the year. Cal Poly returns 7 of 11 regional qualifiers next year.