Track and field added seven athletes to its team as part of a winter class that bolstered both the track and field side.
The group represented the first group of athletes signed by first-year coach Chris Bradford.
“I thought we had a really quality team here to start with, but I did think we did have some holes,” Bradford said. “It really wasn’t one specific area, that’s one thing I love about track is you don’t just need one hurdler or one high jumper, you can have two or three or four of them and they can all compete, and they can all score well.”
Unlike recruiting in other collegiate sports where student-athletes commit while still in high school, track and field athletes rarely commit that far in advance in part because of track and field being a Spring sport at the high school and college level.
In August, when Bradford took over the full-time coaching role from last year’s acting head coach Wes Ashford, a class of freshmen recruits had already been brought in.
Ashford and assistant coach Sara Macey brought in 10 freshmen for the men’s team and five for the women’s team.
The mid-year class arrived on campus in January.
The timing of the athletes’ arrival had to do with the placement of track and field on the competition calendar and academic commitments.
“With the transfers sometimes there’s just different situations where they needed to finish up one more semester at their community college or their junior college or if they needed a couple more classes to graduate,” Bradford said.
“That’s kind of why the mid-year stuff happens a little bit in track.”
Of the seven mid-year transfers, five can compete in multiple events. In looking for recruits, Bradford prefers athletes who are versatile, but also acknowledged that in certain cases a one event specialist makes sense.
“It absolutely matters, but it also depends on the situation,” Bradford said.
“If you can get that special all-American type athlete who may only be a one event athlete, there are times you have to take that leap.”
The preference for multi-event athletes is based on the number of athletes the team can take to the California Collegiate Athletic Association meet at the end of the season.
According to Bradford, the outdoor conference championships allow around 32 athletes per team.
The more entries a team can get out of those 32 athletes, the better chance that team has at competing for a team title.
“If you can take 32 athletes and somehow get 65 or 70 entries out of 32 athletes, you’re in a pretty good position,” Bradford said.
One of those athletes is junior Shane Martin who transferred from Mississippi Valley State and can compete in the 110-meter hurdles and the long jump.
So far, he has excelled in the hurdles, setting a personal best last week at the Point Loma Nazarene Invitational with a time of 14.16 seconds and finishing in the top three at multiple meets while hitting NCAA provisional marks.
“He’s hitting around fifth in the country right now,” Bradford said. “It’s really early and we expect him to go quite a bit faster.”
Martin, a native of Chula Vista, California, took a year off from school before selecting Cal Poly Pomona as his new home.
With track and field being both an individual and team sport, Bradford set goals at multiple levels for the team, groups of athletes and individual athletes at the beginning of the year and continues to set goals as the season progresses.
“Sometimes it’s tough in a sport like track and field with so many different events and so many different people going in so many different directions to have that commonality,” Bradford said.
“So what we try really hard to instill in our team is that we’re all in this together for one common goal.”
That common goal according to Bradford is to win the CCAA Championships.
The track and field season culminates in the NCAA Outdoor National Championships, this season held the weekend of May 24-26.
Last season, track and field took four athletes to nationals three of whom graduated.
“We’re always trying to bring more,” Bradford said. “We have athletes on the team who have the ability to go … I don’t know how many we’re going to get at the end of the year but we’re going to work really hard to try to get as many as we can.”