By Christian Manoukian
The Cal Poly Pomona track and field teams fought hard against some incredibly competitive schools and athletes in the 2017 Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa Pacific University, recording several impressive finishes.
The Bryan Clay Invitational differed from other track meets the CPP team attends in that this was an open meet, meaning that any athlete or team could register to attend.
As a result, the Bryan Clay Invitational has become a destination for top Olympic, pro and collegiate track and field athletes to test their mettle against other top Division I competitors.
Reigning American Olympic triple jump champion and current world champion Christian Taylor competed in the triple jump, breaking the Azusa Pacific Stadium’s triple jump record in the process.
On the women’s side, British Olympic and national record holder in long jump Shara Proctor also broke stadium records.
However, the competitive nature of the competition and the plethora of track and field stars present didn’t phase CPP coach Wes Ashford or his team at all.
“I think we’ve held our own very well against a lot of these extremely high-level competitive schools that are here,” said Ashford. “We’ve had some outstanding performances in several events, and that’s what we want to focus our attention on.”
One of those events he referred to was the brutal men’s 5,000-meter race, which took place late Thursday evening.
Senior Mark Huizar and junior Ruben Dominguez finished ninth and tenth, respectively, against an incredibly talented field of runners from Division I schools such as Southern Utah University and the University of Oregon.
Dominguez called the race an “intimidating prospect.”
“There are a lot of fast guys out here, and you have to stay with them and go for it, otherwise you’ll be left far behind,” Dominguez said.
For Huizar, competing in a race of this caliber was something he had long dreamt of.
“Honestly, it’s just exciting being out here with all these guys. I’ve been wanting to get into these kinds of races, these kinds of heats, since I was a young kid, and to race alongside my teammates made it a much better experience,” said Huizar.
“We worked together, motivated each other, we ran a fast time and I think we’re now one and two in the all-time school record,” Huizar added.
“They were both extremely competitive, and they improved upon their national qualifying marks, so they moved up the polls,” said Ashford.
While both the distance runners’ performances clearly stood out from the rest of the pack, they weren’t the only exceptional performers during the invitational.
Junior Alisha Greenlaw won her heat in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.96 seconds, earning a 38th overall finish.
Senior Calene Morris also improved upon her national qualifying time in the women’s 5,000-meter, finishing with a time of 16 minutes and 52 seconds.
CPP also had several notable performances in field events.
Ryan Peacock, who last week was named California Collegiate Athletic Association track and field athlete of the week, competed well in the men’s discus throw, placing 22nd overall with a throw of 42.23 meters.
In the men’s pole vault, both Kyle Victoria and Nolan O’Brien finished in the top 10.
Victoria finished in a tie for fifth with a vault of 4.72 meters, while O’Brien was tied for sixth place with a vault of 4.57 meters.
Promising freshman Matthew Chukwueke jumped a 14.03 in the triple jump, putting him incredibly close to his school personal record of 14.15 and giving him an eighth-place finish overall.
Ashford said that Chukwueke will be a “great asset” to the team as time goes on.
“He’s very talented. He’s got a few things he needs to work on, like any athlete does, and as long as he keeps working on those things and has a desire to become better, then he’s going to be a very good jumper for us,” said Ashford.
Next week, track and _ÀåÂ_Äeld will compete at the University of California Riverside Invite.
Christian Manoukian / The Poly Post
Junior Alisha Greenlaw won her heat in the women’s 100-meter.
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