The Cal Poly Pomona men’s and women’s track and field teams were well represented in the final results at the 35th Annual Chico Multi-Event Classic on Feb. 27-28, as Kyle Lawson won the men’s decathlon and Charisma Byrd won the women’s heptathlon.
Lawson, a fifth-year civil engineering student, was one of only six total Broncos to compete in the Chico-Multi Event Classic, finishing with the most individual points and placing first out of 10 competitors in the decathlon.
Lawson set a career-high of 41.01 meters in the discus competition, which helped lead him to his fourth-best decathlon score of his four-year career at CPP.
Byrd, a fourth-year kinesiology student, was dominant in the women’s heptathlon, finishing with the most combined individual points and winning first place out of 14 competitors.
Byrd achieved her personal best in the 100 meter hurdles (16.11 seconds), shot put (8.81 meters), long jump (4.91 m) and javelin (26.36 m), which led to a career-best score in the heptathlon, surpassing her previous best of 4,162 points.
“With only six of us in Chico, at first it was hard to make a big presence so far away from home,” Byrd said. “However, nearing the conclusion of the meet it was clear that we had a name for Cal Poly Pomona with Kyle Lawson and myself placing first.”
Another Bronco that stepped up at the Chico Multi-Event Classic was Gabriel Zapata, a third-year electrical systems engineering tech student.
Zapata finished in fifth place overall in the men’s decathlon and set a new personal record with 5,964 points.
Zapata set personal records in the 100-meter (11.42 seconds), 400-meter (51.05), 110 hurdles (15.16), discus (26.33 m), pole vault (3.25 m) and 1500-meters (4:56.52) to easily surpass his previous high score in the decathlon by a score of 395 points.
“On their own home field with a crowd cheering for them and against you, it was both frustrating and motivating to do better,” Zapata said.“We all went out there to show Chico what Cal Poly Pomona is made of and I think we did a good job of that.”
Head coach Chris Bradford had his men and women ready to go at the event, as there was no questioning the teams when it came to their preparation and performance.
It was only the second outdoor competition of the season for both the men and women, yet the student-athletes on this year’s track and field teams are showing us a glimpse of good things to come.
Lawson and Byrd’s performances in Chico were not only huge for themselves, but they resonate with the rest of the squad.
“It was a great chance to see where our squad is at early in the year, and it’s a great foundation to build off going into the season,” Zapata said.
This track and field season will have its fair share of ups and downs, but the Broncos can use the big performances from Lawson and Byrd to motivate individual athletes and show each other just how talented they are and how much potential the team has.
Coach Bradford has both teams on a path to succeed this season, and while momentum and starting the season strong are important, the path to success will hinge on how the team handles its preparation each week with the goal of improving day by day.
The Broncos will have their next track and field event Saturday when they travel to Long Beach for the Long Beach Opener.