Javelin throwing, high jumping and distance running.
These are the three events in which Cal Poly track and field team members Aris Borjas, Sharon Day and Phillip Reid will compete at the NCAA Championships, which run today through Saturday at Sacramento State.
Borjas (men’s javelin), Day (women’s high jump) and Reid (men’s 1,500-meter run) clinched spots at NCAAs with their respective performances at the NCAA West Regional Meet in Eugene, Ore., from May 25 to 26.
With a personal-best throw of 236 feet, 5 inches at regionals, Borjas, a senior, said he is happy with his rate of improvement.
“Last year I improved by about 8 feet,” Borjas said. “This year I improved by between 12 to 15 feet.”
He said he hopes to do well at NCAAs, but knows that nothing is guaranteed.
“Right now, I’m ranked eighth going into the nationals,” Borjas said, “and there are 26 other competitors in my group. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Day, a junior, said she is satisfied with her wins at both the Big West Conference and regional meets. She is looking forward to competing at nationals and possibly breaking her record.
Day won the NCAA outdoor title two years ago at 6-4 before suffering a foot injury last season, in which she redshirted.
“My personal-best right now (this season) is 6 feet, 3/4 inches,” Day said. “I will give it my best because I want to do well.”
Cal Poly distance-running coach Mark Conover said he is impressed with the work Reid has done. The junior, who was named Cal Poly’s Male Athlete of the Year on May 15, won the 1,500 at the Big West Championships at Cal State Northridge on May 12 in 3 minutes, 42.54 seconds.
That mark broke the record previously held by Steve Scott – a former UC Irvine runner who went on to compete in three Olympics – since 1978 by more than a second.
“Phillip has done really well in cross country and the 1,500-meter,” Conover said. “He did what he needed to do to get through to the NCAA Championships.”
Borjas spoke of the team bonding that is present between himself and the others.
“Although we come from different event groups, I think our camaraderie is very strong,” Borjas said. “Our team has a really good kind of cohesion and we get along really well. That is very important.”
Conover agreed that there is a genuine bond between the three athletes.
“They are a great group of people,” Conover said. “Their spirits are high and they’re a real tight-knit group of people.”
And just where does the dream of Olympic gold sit in the plans of the trio?
Borjas said that he would like to accomplish that goal, but he would first like to continue working on his skills.
“Of course I would love to be there,” Borjas said, “but I have some more things to improve on before I get there. If and when it comes to that point, I will do my best to represent my country.”
Day said the Olympics are a goal she is working hard to accomplish in the near future.
“I want to keep training so that I can go to the trials,” Day said. “My goal is to try and make the Olympic team next summer.”
Of Reid’s Olympic prospects, Conover said: “I think he has the talent, the ability, the training behind him and more training in the future to seriously succeed. He can be the real deal and a big-time player in the Olympics.”
But first, Conover and Co. hope this weekend goes well.
“These three that are going to the NCAAs are real quality athletes,” Conover said. “I have confidence they will all do well.”