Credit: Eyasu Betwos | Mustang News

The future is now for the Women’s Track and Field at Cal Poly, as the defending Big West Conference champions’ impressive sophomore class has the team expecting themselves to repeat as champions. 

“This year I want to do the same,” sophomore runner Cassidy Hubert said. “We have a lot of great people coming back from last year, so winning the team title again is a huge goal for us.”

Before the team is able to get a crack at the outdoor championship, an indoor season had to be run. With indoor being negated back in 2021 due to COVID-19, the majority of team members ran in their very first indoor collegiate meets this winter.

“We all, after that first year and our season being taken away, were very motivated to want to succeed,” Hubert said. “We relied on each other to push each other in practice and to work hard every day.” 

Succeed they did, Hubert and the sophomore class of runners and field athletes set eight team-leading seasonal marks out of the 14 individual events, a feat that established the group as the top performers amongst the team. 

The 60, 200, 400, 600 and 800 meter runs were all topped by sophomore standout runners Shelby Daniele, Anisa Rind and Hubert. The trio of runners etched their names into Cal Poly history, with all three becoming second place all-time finishers in different events.

Daniele’s 7.74 second 60-meter dash during the Arkansas Qualifier on Feb. 18 moved her into second place in the record books, tieing A’Jah Love (2016) and Mishe’ Scott (2015).

Rind’s indoor season consisted of having the best times in the 200 and 400 meters, along with moving into second place all-time in the 400. At the Michigan Invitational on Jan. 22, Rind’s team-leading time of 25.50 seconds in the 200 meters was recorded. However, it was at the Arkansas Qualifier where the Laguna Beach native broke her own 400-meter personal record and ran it in 57.72 seconds –– which was fast enough to sit behind only LeBren Martin’s mark of 55.95 seconds (2004) all-time.

The 400-meter race is the one that Rind sees herself improving in the most.

“I want to make it to regionals in the 400,” Rind said. “I want to keep improving on my times.”  

The third member of the sophomore trio is 805 native Hubert. The Ventura product had limited experience running indoors coming into the season, only running in one other indoor meet two years ago. 

However, the adjustment to the inclined track seemed to be without trouble for her. Her personal record time of 1:33.22 at the Michigan Individual put Hubert only behind Mikaela Romanini all time. Then at the Washington State University Open on Feb. 4, Hubert placed third and set a season-best in the women’s 800 meters with a time of 2:12.57 seconds. 

Rind attributes the group’s success to the work they put in at practice.

“The people that came in my class added on to the competitive atmosphere we have at practice,” Rind said. “We keep that same energy competing in meets as we do at practice.”

It wasn’t just the runners who were setting the team-leading marks during the indoor season. The top field marks included sophomore pole vaulter Annie Hatzenbeler’s vault of 12’ 3 ½” and sophomore shot putter Natalie Rogers’ 41’ 8 ½” toss. 

Although the indoor records were historic, the sophomore class continued to impress and improve on their times and marks into the outdoor season.

The Big West Conference title is won on the outdoor track, and, just as the sophomore class dominated the top team scores during the indoor season, they have quickly claimed ten out of the nineteen outdoor events this season.

Daniele has the best times this season in both the 100 and 200-meter races. In the 200, she placed second at last year’s conference meet with a time of 24.57 seconds and is right there again this year, clocking in at 25.02 seconds on Mar. 25. In addition to this, she placed third last year with an 11.92-second 100-meter race, a time she has already surpassed this season when she ran an 11.87 on Mar. 31. 

The defending Big West champion in the 400 meters, Rind, leads the team in the event again after clocking in at 57.13 seconds this season, a time that is 0.77 seconds off from her title run last season. 

While Hubert says she is only going to focus on the 800 meters going into the conference meet after placing second in the conference in the 400 last year, her time of 2:09.49 in the 800 has already surpassed her seventh-place run at the conference meet last year by over two seconds. 

“I want to make it to the NCAA regional meet in my individual event as well as [winning the conference title],” Hubert said. “That’s my personal goal in conference.” 

Sophomore throwers Melissa Navarro and Amaya Lopez-Fuller are both out to notable outdoor starts as well. Navarro’s 155’ 8’’ javelin throw leads all members of the team, while Lopez-Fuller surpassed Rogers as the team’s leader in the shot put, marking 41’ 4.5”. 

It’s rare that one class dominates a team as much as this sophomore class is this season. The men’s team, for instance, has an athlete in all four classes owning at least three team-highs on the season. Even last year, only Rind, Daniele, Lopez-Fuller and Rogers held top scores. 

“We keep a good team energy,” Hubert said. “We keep everything positive and I feel like it’s an encouraging environment. Everyone wants everyone to succeed and that really showed translating to the season.”

The strides and leaps the class has made from last year to today present a highly anticipated last stretch of regular-season meets before the Big West Conference Championships beginning on Friday, May 6. With already a title under their belts, the goal of a back-to-back season is within their grasp.