Jen Boudevin

Despite a season complicated by injury, red-shirts and rain, the Cal Poly track and field team is ready for the Big West Championships today and Saturday at Cal State Northridge.

Last year, the men’s team placed a close second behind Northridge at the championships and the women’s team came in fifth. For the men to match that result, it will take some monumental performances.

“Due to injuries and the red-shirt situation, we are going into the conference with some major holes in quite a few events,” coach Terry Crawford said. “The group knows there is a necessity to really pull together and maximize our individual points for our best team showing.”

The men’s team expects to pick up big points in the distance events as well as pole vault and javelin. The Mustangs have the top three seeds in the 1500 meter with freshmen Joe Gatel and Evan Anderson as well as Philip Reid.

Luke Llamas goes into the 3000 steeplechase finals with the top seed, as well as one of the top times in the nation at 8:45.34.

In the pole vault, Adrian Ruark tops the list of Cal Poly qualifiers with a best of 16 feet 7.25 inches. Mike King and James Nunno have each cleared 15 feet and could score as well.

And, in the javelin, Aris Borjas is seeded second at 218 feet 2 inches, while teammates Jason Holmes and Jeremy Vukasinovic could make the top eight as well.

One the women’s side, Deirdre Byrne, 1500m, and Willimena Cisco, 100m hurdles, top the list of Cal Poly qualifiers.

In the 800m, sophomore Cassie Atkinson is seeded second with a best of 2:11.75. Freshman Caitlin Schields is ranked third in the conference in the triple jump at 39 feet 0.75 inches.

Byrne will attempt to double-up in the 800m and her top event, the 1500m while Cisco will run in the 100m and 100m hurdles. Both are regional qualifiers.

Despite several top performers, athletes and coaches still wonder what might have been if not for poor weather and a slough of injuries.

“We just hit some bad luck this year with all the injuries and day after day of bad weather,” pole vaulter Adrian Ruark said. “All of our top meets this year were rainy or cold and cloudy.”

In addition to gloomy skies, injury plagued several competitors this year.

“I would like to have some individuals healthier because I know they could have contributed to our team effort, but as a staff we made decisions on some individuals that will impact the program well for next year,” Crawford said.

However, Crawford remains upbeat about a potential upset team performance this weekend.

“I am really excited and optimistic that the individuals we are taking (to the Big West Championships) are ready for their seasonal best performance,” Crawford said. “We feel the unusually cold and rainy spring has held us back from producing quality marks, so good weather and good competition this coming weekend should produce our best team effort of the year.”

For more information and updated reports on the track and field team’s performance in the championships, visit or the Big West Conference Web site at

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