Triton Women Take Second at All-Cal

With many events on their schedule that include only Division I opponents, the UCSD track and field teams are often underrated and taken lightly. This past weekend, however, the Tritons enhanced UCSD’s reputation and quieted their D-I critics with a very impressive performance at the All-Cal Championships. Hosted by UC Irvine, the competition also included UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside and UC Davis.

Courtesy of Tony Solerno
Junior Whitney Johnson earned two first-place finishes at the All-Cal Championships, hosted by UC Irvine on March 3, in the long jump and triple jump events with impressive distances of 19 feet, 1.5 inches and 40 feet, 4.75 inches, respectively to help her team earn second place overall.

The Tritons proved their worth, with the women’s team placing second overall and the men’s finishing in third. Senior hurdler Dan Noel was extremely pleased with how his team fared against the top-division schools.

“”As a team, we deserve the same level of respect, regardless of division,”” Noel said. “”Sometimes people get lost in the fallacy of Division I domination and forget that what matters is who is better prepared to compete on any given day.””

The women not only showed that they could compete with the D-I schools, but that they have the potential to beat them. All day long the women vied for the meet championship, but unfortunately came up just four points short, losing to UC Santa Barbara.

Courtesy of Tony Solerno
Sophomore sprinter Connor McCabe had a third-place finish with his time of 11.45 seconds in the 100-meter dash at the All-Cal Championships.

The runner-up finish was no reflection on just how well the team did.

The Triton women earned six first-place finishes at the meet, highlighted by two each from junior hurdler Laiah Blue and junior jumper Whitney Johnson. Blue dominated the 100- and 400-meter hurdles with times of 14.05 and 61.47 seconds, respectively.

Johnson set the all-time UCSD record with her distances in both the long jump, 19 feet, 1.5 inches, and the triple jump, 40 feet, 4.75 inches. Becoming the school record holder was a thrill for Johnson, but it also came with its fair share of anxiety.

“”It felt great to set those [distances],”” Johnson said. “”But it also makes me a little nervous for the rest of the season. I really want to be able to continue hitting those marks later in the season and be able to have even better marks at conference championships and nationals.””

Also receiving first-place finishes were freshman sprinter Christine Merrill in the 200 dash and senior thrower Samantha Belvini in the javelin throw.

Even though all these victories were not enough to grab the meet championship, the team’s efforts will carry into the rest of its season, where more first-place finishes are expected.

“”Once our team, which is a really young team, starts getting into [its] zone, we’ll start to win championships,”” Johnson said.

Even though the men didn’t place as high as the women, they were able to leave the All-Cal meet with some serious hardware of their own.

Junior hurdler Khalil Hooper got himself a top finish in the 110 hurdles by posting a time of 15.25 seconds.

Similarly, freshman jumper Chris Yu’s distance of 21 feet, 11.75 inches in the long jump was more than enough for him to grab first place. Sophomore sprinter Connor McCabe rounded out the Tritons’ top finishes by breaking the tape in the 100 dash in 11.45 seconds, a time good enough to earn him third place.

After playing in front of away crowds for the first two meets of the year, the Tritons finally get to race at home this weekend when they play host to the San Diego City Championships on March 10.

At the meet, UCSD will square off against San Diego State, Point Loma Nazarene University and Cal State San Marcos. No matter how the Tritons fare at the meet, they will be guaranteed to improve their standing from last year’s city championships.

The 2006 championship was held on an incredibly rainy day, which greatly affected the times of all players involved. The coaches decided not to cancel the meet, but did not announce the winner due to the altered times.

With nothing but beautiful San Diego sun forecasted for March 10, the Tritons are in a great position to capture their first team championship, and will pride themselves with parading that championship in front of their home fans for the first time all season.

Noel is eager for the first home meet of the season and has high expectations for his team.

“”I am excited to have our first home competition,”” Noel said. “”Hopefully, the comfort of our home track will bring some big performances by both the men’s and women’s side.””