Cal Poly Track and Field are focusing on team growth and training with a purpose as they set their sights on the 2020 Big West Championships. The Mustangs’ 2020 campaign began on Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Bronco Invitational in Nampa, Idaho.

“In previous years it felt like we’ve been going through the motions,” junior distance runner Sierra Brill said. “This year everyone is practicing with a purpose, with a goal in mind … I think everyone is going to step up and do their part.”

In 2019, the Women’s Track and Field team finished in third-place at the Big West Conference Championships behind UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton. The Men’s team placed fourth with a 97.5 point performance. Miranda Daschian, Alex Merder, Bobby Poynter and Abibat Rahman-Davies all led the Mustangs by taking home individual conference titles in their respective events.

Brill said her team’s third-place finish proved they are real contenders for taking home a championship in 2020. Senior decathlete Bailey Thayer echoed Brill’s sentiment toward the team’s positive attitudes heading into the new season. 

“There’s only so many things you can control in track,” Thayer said. “There’s a lot of variables in our lives that can change, but if we just focus on every day and every meet, I think we’ll build to our main goal of winning a Big West Championship.”

According to Thayer, the Mustangs’ biggest strength lies within a tight-knit bond of team comradery.

“Everyone’s spending a lot of time together, getting to know one another, training hard with their teammates,” Thayer said. “The respect each athlete has for each other really is shown out on the track everyday.”

Cal Poly will look to rely on its team comradery in the absence of key athletes in the 2020 season. Among last year’s Big West title winners, seniors Daschian and Merder graduated at the end of the academic year. Kevin Ward and Katie Izzo, who earned All-Conference honors for Cal Poly last year, are also absent from this season’s roster. 

Despite the absence of last season’s title winners, the Mustangs kicked off the new season with a bang at the Bronco Invitational on Saturday, Nov. 18. 

The season-opener saw junior pole vaulter Brooke Tjerrild break a program record with her clearance of 13 feet and 8.5 inches. The previous school record of 13′ 7.25″ had stood for 20 years. Tjerrild’s mark placed her at No. 10 in the nation this indoor season according to Cal Poly Athletics.

Brooke Tjerrild’s performance in Cal Poly’s season opener earned her a Cal Poly student-athlete of the week award. Diego Rivera | Mustang News
Brooke Tjerrild’s performance in Cal Poly’s season opener earned her a Cal Poly student-athlete of the week award. Diego Rivera | Mustang News

The invitational also saw second-place finishes from Rahman-Davies in the triple jump and Brill in the mile event. Rahman-Davies posted her season-opening jump on her second attempt with a mark of 39′ 10. Brill posted a mile time of 5:00.03 behind Utah’s Whitney Hessler, who finished with a first-place time of 4:59.59.

“I’ve never started out a season that fast this early on,” Brill said. “I’m very proud of how I performed and the effort that was put forth. I know I have a lot more in me because its just the beginning, so it’s super exciting.”

Brill said Cal Poly’s success in the opening meet not only inspires younger teammates who haven’t had the chance to compete, but also set the tone for the rest of the season. 

“Its super uplifting and really positive, especially in the beginning of the season,” Brill said. “To have such big performances so early on bodes very well for later on in the season when we’re competing in outdoor for conference titles.”

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