Last weekend she made history, but Sharon Day isn’t content stopping there.
The Cal Poly senior broke the Big West Conference heptathlon record while winning the title May 10 at Cal State Northridge, lifting the Mustangs women to a 19-15 lead heading into the main events today and Saturday.
Her 5,642 points not only automatically qualified at the national championship level, but edged Idaho’s Manuela Kurrat 2005 conference total of 5,614, and shattered the Cal Poly mark of 5,412, set in 1987 by Sharon Hanson, who became one of eight Olympians in Mustangs history.
Upon renewing competition at the Matador Track Complex, though, Day will still be looking to achieve the Olympic “A” standard in the high jump, and the rest of the Cal Poly track and field team will be striving for its first conference titles – on the women’s and men’s sides – since moving to Division I in 1994.
“It’s really important,” Day said of establishing the early advantage over an “intimidating” Cal State Northridge.
In her final season at Cal Poly, Day seems to feel an even more palpable sense of immediacy than in the past.
“Being a senior, I guess, you start to realize my time as a Cal Poly athlete is really coming to an end,” she said. “And I want to get the best out of my teammates.”
It hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“She’s chosen to be an outspoken leader this year,” said Terry Crawford, Cal Poly’s director, of Day’s effort to “guide and challenge” her teammates. “She’s taken on a new dimension.”
In spite of her heptathlon achievement, Day says she’ll likely save her best at mid-June’s nationals for her No. 1 event, the high jump.
“I don’t know that I will be competing in the heptathlon at nationals, because it’d be very difficult to try the high jump (two days) after that,” she explained.
With a season-best clearance of 6 feet, 2 _ inches at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 20, Day is still in search of a 6-4 _ mark that would meet the Olympic “A” standard, which would substantially improve her prospects of competing on behalf of the United States at the 2008 Summer Games.
“I’ve had really good attempts, and I feel it’s definitely attainable this season,” she said of reaching the standard “any given day, (at) any given meet.”
Crawford is also optimistic about the chances of Day and Cal Poly as a whole.
“Over the last several years, as we’ve had our athletes really do well at multi-event (competition), it seems like that really sets the tone for the whole team going into the conference meet the next weekend,” she said.
Also placing for the Mustangs on May 10 were Katie Robbins and Sara Klein, who took fourth and fifth in the heptathlon, and Corbin Duer, who came in seventh in the decathlon.
Besides Day, whose marks rest atop the conference in the high jump and long jump, triple jumper Jessica Eggleston is the only Cal Poly woman entering today ranked No. 1 in the conference in an event.
Mustangs ranked second are Jasmine Pickett (in the long and triple jumps) and Julieann Dufresne (shot put and discus).
Top-ranked Cal Poly men are Chris Frazeur (in the 400-meter hurdles), Joe Gatel (1,500) and Kevin Jones (pole vault), while top-three Mustangs include Tre’dale Tolver (100), Evan Anderson (1,500), Carl Dargitz (5-k and steeplechase), Joey Hauser (triple jump) and Chris White (shot put).
Cal Poly, though, which has had 14 competitors already qualify at the West Regional level, shouldn’t get overconfident, Crawford stressed.
“We’re certainly going in as an underdog, I think, on both the men’s and women’s sides,” she said of facing the “team to beat,” host Cal State Northridge, a defending champion on both the men’s and women’s sides. “The rest of the conference schools are all going to just be sort of grabbing for every point we can get.”