Cal Poly Track and Field finished fourth overall in the men’s standings and fifth in the women’s standings at the Big West Conference Championships on Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14 at Woody Wilson Track.
The meet was a two-day tournament to determine the champion of each event in the Big West. Some events held prelims on Friday and finals on Saturday, while other events started and finished on the same day.
Cal Poly had five athletes finish in the top three of their respective events on Friday, meaning the Mustangs had five All-Conference Honors.
On the day, 15 Mustang athletes recorded points for the team score.
The 10,000-meter event was a strength for Cal Poly in the meet, with four Mustangs finishing within the top seven and collecting 17 total team points. Senior Jake Ritter had the best finish, coming in second with a time of 30 minutes, 52.35 seconds.
The men’s team collected another eight points in shot put with two top-seven finishes, including junior Nick Betchart, who came in third place with 53-8.5.
Redshirt senior Emily Hallett is the school record-holder for the hammer throw, as well as the defending champion from last year. She came up just seven inches short in her attempt to repeat as champion (198 feet 1 inch) but walked away with second place.
Sophomore Annie Hatzenbeler added six points to the women’s team’s total with a third-place finish in pole vault with a max height of 12-3.25.
In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, a pair of Mustangs set career-high marks. Sophomore Anthony Guerra finished in nine minutes and 6.35 seconds to take home third place, while freshman Nina St. John crushed her personal best by more than 20 seconds with a time of 11 minutes and 8.05 seconds.
Other Mustangs to qualify for the finals in their respective events were:
- Sophomore Anisa Rind (women’s 400m)
- Sophomore Shimona Draper (women’s 400m hurdles)
- Redshirt junior Jonathan Chagnon (men’s 400m hurdles)
- Sophomore Joey Souto (men’s 400m hurdles)
- Sophomore Cassidy Hubert (women’s 800m)
- Sophomore Aidan McCarthy (men’s 800m)
- Freshman Julia Heckey (women’s 1500m)
- Junior Xian Shively (men’s 1500m)
- Junior Anthony Benitez (men’s 1500m)
- Junior Elias Opsahl (men’s 1500m)
At the end of the first day of competition, the men’s team sat in second place with 53 points, while the women’s team was in third place with 33 points. The men trailed UC Santa Barbara by 23 points, while the women were 12 points behind UC Davis for second.
On the second and final day, three Mustangs came in first place to earn the title of Big West Champion of their respective event.
First was McCarthy, who secured the 800m men’s title after a new personal best time of 1:49.38. This was the fifth-fastest time in school history and the fastest since 2013.
Redshirt sophomore Melissa Navarro won the Women’s Javelin competition on her fifth throw after recording 155 feet, two inches. Navarro was the favorite going into the event, and she took care of business, giving the Mustangs their first title in this event since 2016.
Sophomore Mathis Bresko was also the No. 1 seed going into the Men’s Pole Vault competition, and he put on a show as well. After finishing third last year, he captured the Big West title for the Mustangs for the first time since 2013.
Shively earned All-Conference honors in the Men’s 1500m with a second-place finish while Ritter continued his success at the Championships with another second-place finish in the Men’s 5,000-meter race.
Freshman Isabella Rigby competed in the women’s discus throw and finished in second place (159-7) to earn All-Conference Honors.
The Women’s 4×400 relay team crossed the finish line just behind the champions Hawai’i. The team of freshman Katelyn Carro, sophomore Anisa Rind, junior Kaila Bishop and sophomore Cassidy Hubert still came in second place to secure All-Conference Honors.
Hubert and Rind also received individual All-Conference Honors. Hubert competed in the Women’s 800m and finished in third place (2:10.06), while Rind took part in the Women’s 400m – the event she won in 2021 – and also took home the bronze medal (56.86).
The final Mustang athlete to place on the day was freshman Melody Nwagwu. She picked up a third-place finish in Women’s triple jump with a final jump of 40-3.5. She also took home fourth place in Women’s Long Jump, less than one foot behind the champion.
At the end of Saturday, there were 15 individual Mustang athletes who finished with All-Conference Honors, and one relay team as well. After two days of competition, the Cal Poly Men’s team finished in fourth place with 118.5 points, while the Cal Poly Women’s team finished in fifth place with 91 points.
Next, the team will need to wait and see how many Mustangs will be selected for the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds from Wednesday, May 25 through Saturday, May 28 at the University of Arkansas.