Kyle Calzia / Courtesy
Cal Poly, UCSB, Fresno State and Fresno Pacific compete at the Mustang Quad Meet at Steve Miller & John Capriotti Athletic Complex on Saturday, April 3, 2021. (MANDATORY CREDIT: Kyle Calzia / Cal Poly Athletics)

The new three-day format for the Big West Track and Field Championships proved to be a successful one for Cal Poly’s Men’s and Women’s Track and Field teams. The men brought home a second-place finish while the women marked their place in the Cal Poly history books with their first-ever team conference championship. 

Multi-Event Championships, May 7 & 8

Just a week before the main events at UC Irvine, at the Big West Multi-Event Championships, Cal Poly’s Julianna Ruotolo brought home the individual Big West Championship for her performance in the heptathlon. 

She was behind UC Davis’ Sydney Holmes going into the final event, the 800-meter, but a personal best of 2:20.75 secured her the victory and made her only the fifth Mustang in school history to win the Big West heptathlon title. 

Another highlight of the multi-event competitions was Dylan Bouzigues’ performance in the decathlon, where his second-place finish was complimented with being selected for the Big West All-Conference team. 

Among other strong performances by Mustangs Adelae Fredeen, Shimona Draper, and Adam Gockel, Cal Poly had themselves quite a lot of positive momentum heading to the rest of the competitions the next week.

After the events of May 7 and 8, Cal Poly’s Women’s team were first in the championship standings, holding a one point lead over rivals UC Santa Barbara, while the Men’s team was firm in second and six behind the Gauchos.  

Big West Conference Championship Meet, May 13 – 15

The highlight of the three-day tournament at UCI’s Anteater Stadium was the Mustang Women’s Track and Field team winning their first team conference championship in school history, doing so with Earth-shattering scoring. The Mustangs’ winning score of 181.5 points is the most in a Big West championship meet since 2015. 

The Men’s team also had a strong showing with a second place finish of 157 points, being edged out by only six points by the Tritons of CSU Fullerton. 

One of the events that contributed to the Women’s historic Big West win was the 100-meter hurdles, in which Molly Ross was declared co-champion after a thrilling photo-finish. That win gave the women nine points. 

Ross would then come back to the hurdles and contribute eight more points to Cal Poly’s total with a second place finish in the 400-meter.

Cal Poly then brought out the brooms and swept the women’s 400-meter when Anisa Rind took the title in 56.36 seconds, with Mustangs Cassidy Hubert and Ruotolo finishing second and third, respectively. 

After the huge points boost that sweeping an event brought the women’s team, the 4×400 meter relay secured the win when Ross, Rind, Ruotolo and Hubert won with a time of 3:48.48 and pushed the women over the 180-point mark. 

For the men, Justin Robison’s dominating 3:44.68 run in the 1,500-meter didn’t just win him the title and move him to eighth in school history for the event, but was also the fastest championship run in nine years for the Big West Conference.

Elias Opsahl’s third place finish of 3:48.07 in the same event gave him a new personal best and earned him all-conference accolades as well.

Chineme Allison secured eight points for the men’s team and all-conference honors with his second place finish in 100-meter dash, doing so in a photo finish against UC Davis’ Benjamin Goodwin, losing by just .01 of a second. 

Tyler Esteves also attributed some points from the 100-meter with his fourth place finish of 10.71.

Other highlights of the three-day meet included Shelby Daniele, who in her debut at the conference meet included all-conference honors for her second and third place performances in the 200 meter and 100 meter dash, respectively.

Also making all-conference from the women’s team was Sierra Brill with her second place finish in the 5,000-meter and Amaya Lopez-Fuller for earning the bronze in discus. 

For the men, Will Smith brought home all-conference honors for his third-place 178′ 11″ showing in discus, while Bobby Poynter made his second consecutive All-Big West Team after finishing third in the men’s 800-meter. 

Finally, the women’s 4×1 relay team also was honored with All-Big West accolades when they finished third with a season-best effort of 47.10 seconds.

The Mustangs hope many of their individual competitors will be announced as a part of the 48-person field on Thursday, May 20 at 10 a.m. Those who do get selected will compete at the Western Regionals, held at Texas A&M from May 26-29, hoping to keep their postseason run alive. 

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