Cal Poly men's and women's track teams are set to compete in the Big West Conference Championships on May 11 and 12 in Irvine.
Cal Poly men's and women's track teams are set to compete in the Big West Conference Championships on May 11 and 12 in Irvine.
Cal Poly men’s and women’s track teams are set to compete in the Big West Conference Championship on May 11 and 12 in Irvine where they aim to improve on their third and seventh place finishes in 2011, respectively.
“There will be a lot of strong competitors this year,” head coach Mark Conover said. “A lot of programs are really loaded up this year. There is going to be great competition all around.”
Long Beach State, the defending men’s champion, retained a strong team, Conover said, and will be a main source of competition for the Mustangs.

“We bring an outstanding group of individuals in a variety of events,” he said. “It’s where we have been at for some time.”

The men’s long distance runners provide the backbone to the Cal Poly lineup and are expected to score well for the Mustangs. Sophomores Chris Frias and Sean Davidson both aim to advance to regionals barring strong performances in the 10K.

Specifically, the men’s 1,500-meter run looks to be a strong spot for Cal Poly.

David Cardona, who took second in the men’s 1,500 in a dual meet against UC Santa Barbara earlier this season hopes his strong performances in his main events — the 1,500 and 5,000 — translate to postseason success.

“I want to set a time for regionals,” Cardona said. “Somewhere near 3:46 to 3:48. We’ve gotten a lot of guys to step up to the plate this season. We all know each others’ strengths and weaknesses. We all work together and strive to help each other improve.”

Derek Thomas, a junior out of San Leandro, holds the Big West’s fastest time of 3:46.08 in the 1,500. Thomas and Cardona look to headline a championship push for the Cal Poly men’s distance runners.

Team captain Eric Surprenaunt also has high hopes for his performance in the 400 meter hurdles. Surprenaunt, who went to finals last year with a time of 52.80, has improved to a 51.93 time this year, seeding him at third overall in the event. Surprenaunt said he hopes his run doesn’t end at regionals, but continues on to nationals and then, eventually, the Olympic trials.

Chris Frias and Sean Davidson both are aiming to advance to regionals for the longest race, the 10,000-meter run. Frias holds the second best time in the conference at 29:44.14 with Davidson sitting comfortably at 29:56.38.

Pole vaulters Kyle Inks and John Prader went back and forth, both setting personal records during the dual meet against the Gauchos. Inks cleared 17 feet 8.5 inches, while Prader cleared 17 feet 2.5 inches.

As for the sprinters, earlier this season Jamison Jordan posted a 10.56 which tied him with Cal State Northridge’s Thomas Henry for the fastest time in the Big West. Jordan pulled out of the 100-meter dash against UCSB after he suffered from a cramp in his calf and will attempt to rebound in Irvine.

“Anything can happen,” Conover said. “Everyone stands a chance. You never know until they run the race or go out on the field.”

On the women’s side, Cal State Northridge has dominated the conference in the last decade and will attempt to win their seventh straight Big West title this weekend. The team had a disappointing sixth place finish last year.

“We are very young,” Conover said. “A lot of people will be getting some experience. We have some seasoned veterans, but we also have some younger women who have a chance to do very well.”

Freshmen mid-distance runner Annie Whitford has benefited from the leaders on the team and expects they will be successful over the weekend.

“Our girl’s team is extremely close,” Whitford said. “We are all there to support each other and we have a lot of chemistry.”

Freshman Jenna Davis headlines the youthful Mustangs. Davis has posted the fastest times in the 600- and 800-meter races for the Mustangs coming in at 1:33.98 and 2:13.03, respectively.

Alongside Davis, Jessica Williams looks to make a mark at conference. With strong times in the 100 and 200, she hopes to advance past conference and onward to regionals.

Cal Poly opened the multi-events on May 4 to 5 in Irvine to start off the conference meet.

In the multi-events, Whitney Sisler placed sixth overall in the women’s heptathlon. Calynn Stanford placed 11th overall. UCSB’s Barbara Nwaba took first overall in the end.

Sisler is a top high-jumper nationally, making it to nationals last year. Her development has allowed her to compete in the heptathlon, where she placed sixth at the multi-event Big West Championships last weekend.

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