Women’s track and field looks to rise through the pressure and repeat as CCAA Champions

By Kevin Corella, Jan. 31, 2023

The Cal Poly Pomona women’s track and field team conquered the California Collegiate Athletic Association as champions last season and wants to do it again in 2023.

Head coach Chris Bradford returns for a pressure-filled sixth season leading the unit, claiming last season’s CCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year award.

“Pressure is a good thing,” said Bradford. “We do have a target on our back, but we have the right pieces to rise up to that pressure and expectations.”

Courtesy of CPP Athletics

Even with another CCAA championship under their belts, the Broncos have their sights set on being a top 15 team in the country.

“Last year we won a conference title, but we didn’t place at the National championships at the level we thought we could,” said Bradford. “Our goal is to be a top 10 team in the country in addition to continuing at the conference level.”

This season the track and field team experienced changes in the coaching ranks with new throwing coach Frederica Bush and new assistant coach Ian Jennings.

“Both are veteran coaches that have gone through this before, and I think they are very prepared to be successful in that transition coming in here,” said Bradford.

One player Bradford highlighted was junior Ayana Fields who he expects to help guide the team.

“She is quiet, not outspoken in any way, but she is a fierce competitor,” said Bradford. “Every day in practice she brings it, and the team sees that.”

Fields’ mentality coming into the season is to win again as a team as well as keeping herself and her teammates healthy.

“Got to be the reigning champs, of course,” said Fields. “We have to make sure everybody’s staying healthy.”

Fields is coming off one of her best years yet with eight first place finishes at the CCAA Championships. She followed that up in Nationals, placing second in the 400-meter and third in the 200-meter, notching personal best times in both events which led to her receiving two NCAA All American awards.

Fields she is focused on the newcomers and their integration into the team.

“We do have a new group of newcomers, so we are still setting the expectations to make sure they do well in school, stay on top of their game and compete,” said Fields.

The Broncos had 11 graduating seniors last year and are excited to bring in 18 new recruits to add depth and character to their roster.

Coming off a CCAA title, the players and staff have welcomed the pressure that comes with victory and have reinforced it in through preparations.

For returning senior Jade De Souza, her focus for the team is to repeat as conference champions.

“I think we are in a good position to win the conference championship because people are very motivated this year, especially returners,” said De Souza. “The mood when we practice is much more winning-oriented.”

De Souza also talked about her own aspirations for this year in her specialized event.

“Personally, my goal is definitely to win the gold in Nationals for triple jump, since I was close last year,” said De Souza.

De Souza finished second in the 100m hurdles and third in the long jump at the CCAA Championships. De Souza closed her season last year with a fifth-place finish in the triple jump with a distance of 12.62 meters at Nationals.

The team’s outdoor season continues on Jan. 28 when they will attend the University of New Mexico Team Open in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The CPP Track and Field schedule and scores on the Broncos athletic website and events will be live streamed on the CCAA network.

Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics

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