CPP men’s track and field finishes second at Ron Kamaka Invitational

By Nate Macay, Feb. 28, 2023

After battling through freezing temperatures and a lot of rain, Cal Poly Pomona men’s track and field team placed second in the Ron Kamaka Invitational in Walnut, California.

Two members from the men’s team, senior Gabriel Zapata and freshman Gavin Hanes participated in all 10 events of the decathlon. Head coach Chris Bradford spoke very highly of them for competing in tough weather conditions.

“I thought they both battled really well,” said Bradford. “Trying to learn how to compete in tough conditions isn’t easy, but I saw a lot of good things that will help us late in the season.”

Nate Macay | The Poly Post

The first day began with the 100-yard dash, where CPP had two top three finishers. Zapata finished in second with a 11.42 time and Hanes finished third with a 11.58 time. Hanes remained positive about getting through his first decathlon of the year.

“I was proud of my performances,” said Hanes. “The weather wasn’t very good. I could’ve been more warmed up, but for what I did I was happy with it.”

Zapata led the way throughout the rest of the events on day one. He finished top three in the long jump, shot put, high jump and 400-meter dash. Zapata knew to expect harsh weather conditions throughout the invitational and touched on the mental side going into day two.

“I got to stay on point,” said Zapata. “I just have to keep pushing and keep fighting, because I know there’s going to be heavy rain for day two.”

At the end of day one, Zapata finished in second with 3,336 points and Hanes finished with 2,813 points, putting the Broncos in second. CPP trailed San Diego Mesa College, which finished first after day one.

Day two saw cloudy skies in the beginning as the Broncos fought off the cold weather and dominated the 110-meter hurdles in the first event of the day. Zapata finished in first with a time of 15.59 and Hanes’ 16.00 time earned him second.

Heavy rain immediately occurred at the end of warmups for the discus throw, and it made life difficult for the Broncos. Using extra chalk for a better grip and dealing with a flooded throwing circle was both things coach Bradford believed were good practice.

“It’s still a learning process,” said Bradford. “This weather for day two was one of the toughest I’ve seen in a long time. It was important for our guys to not worry about the scores and have them worry about getting through the day.”

Hanes and Zapata managed to bounce back from not being able to finish top three in the discus throw by excelling at the pole vault. Zapata finished first and Hanes finished second as the two competing teammates gave the Broncos a chance to score more points which was a welcome sight to Coach Bradford.

Wind and more rain played a factor in the final two events of the afternoon as San Diego Mesa College continued to make life difficult for CPP after winning the javelin throw.

The 1500-meter run did not go the way the Broncos wanted it to go, as both Zapata and Hanes finished in the back of pack, with Riley Finnegan of Chapman University finishing in first place to end the Invitational.

At the end of the two-day event, Zapata finished in second place with 5,893 points, and Hanes finished in fourth with 4,959 points. Between the two, CPP earned 13 team points which wasn’t enough to beat San Diego Mesa College as they finished with 16 team points and won the Invitational.

Zapata said that he was pleased with the way he competed as he saw himself as more aggressive and knew he could have finished stronger in the end.

Coach Bradford’s focus for both of his athletes is to have them stay positive and immediately get right back to work for the remainder of the season after some rest.

“There were a lot of things to gain confidence from,” said Bradford. “We will give them a day or two to recover. Next week will be pretty light for them, but for the rest of this team, they get their first chance to taste competition next week so we’ll look forward to that.”

The Broncos will travel to Long Beach, California for the Beach Opener from March 3 through March 4. Visit BroncoAthletics.com to follow the men’s track and field team all season long.

Feature image by Nate Macay

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