Track and field looks to top last season’s record-setting performance

By Charlize Althea Garcia, Jan. 23, 2024

Cal Poly Pomona men’s and women’s track and field teams look forward to raising the bar with hopes for national success in the upcoming 2024 season.

The 2024 rosters hold a veteran status comprised of mostly returners in the men’s and women’s teams, although, a substantial number of newcomers joined the women’s team with 15 of the 53 being freshmen.

Head coach of CPP’s track and field and cross-country teams Chris Bradford expressed his excitement working with the athletes.

“We have a great incoming class as well,” said Bradford.” Our freshmen and transfers are really special. This is probably the most talented group we brought in which is saying something based on the success in these groups we had recently.”

The Broncos ended the 2023 season winning the CCAA Championships, with both teams dominating the podium. The men’s team notched their second consecutive win as well as hitting a CCAA record for most points scored with 311 points. They finished the season as regional champions and moved on to the national championships with all American performances.

Thomas Tuff, who placed first in men’s discus throw and second in men’s shot put at the conference championships last May, reflected on the achievements made last season.

“Our point total was the highest it’s ever been,” said Tuff. “We set a record. And this year, we’re looking to beat that record, if not, tie it.”

Alongside the success on the men’s side, the women’s team, both indoor and outdoor, performed exceptionally well with double the amount of athletes competing in nationals compared to previous years and a second consecutive outdoor season win in the CCAA conference.

Ayana Fields won two individual titles in both the women’s 400-meter and 200-meter dashes as well as earning first in the women’s 4×100 relay alongside Jaelyn Thomas, Yuna Queniat and Arissa Hatcher in the conference championships. With a two-week training session before the semester, Fields, alongside her team, prepare for the new season.

Ayana Fields, Jaelyn Thomas, Yuna Queniat and Ari Milton competed at the NCAA national championships last May. | Courtesy of CPP Athletics

Fields recalled a conversation between her fellow athletes about the focus before the race. She mentioned one of her coach’s sayings: “Trust my fitness.”

“I’ve been training for forever,” said Fields. “I just have to trust my ability to run. So, I say that over and over again before my race. And, whatever happens, happens.”

Fields’ ambition mirrors her team’s dynamic as she mentioned the mindfulness in the community of the group. The women’s team holds accountability checks with each member holding each other accountable in school and on the track.

Tuff echoed the same implication of mindset and attitude with the men’s team, expressing companionship and responsibility unto others.

The men’s team continues to strive for progress in every event group and seeks to exceed last season’s achievements.

“For my specific event group, they’re all great athletes,” said Tuff. “They’re all working really hard. They’ll be able to put up points for us within the next couple years and hopefully keep that legacy going.”

Individually, Fields set her own personal goal: becoming a national champion. She also expressed feelings of sentimentality as she reflected on the upcoming season as her last year on the team.

“It’s my last year, so I’m a little heartbroken because it’s the last time I get to compete with this great team that I built really good relationships with, and for me to go off and leave, it kind of breaks my heart a little bit,” said Fields.

Setting those feelings aside, Fields continues to carry the determination she has held onto from previous years. She earned two provisional marks and a school record in the 60-meter-dash in the lead up to the beginning of the indoor season.

The first indoor meet of the 2024 season commenced only two days before the beginning of a new semester, another testament to the careful dedication and efforts to their craft.

“They challenge themselves everyday,” said Bradford. “They work very hard. They balance a very intense academic load with what we’re asking them to do on the track, and they come in with a smile everyday ready to work hard.”

Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics

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