The Broncos reached 20 wins in the season for the first time since 2019. | Courtesy of CPP Athletics

Alessio Sommacal wins first career CCAA Track Athlete of the Week award

By Dylan Long, March 19, 2024

Cal Poly Pomona hurdles competitor Alessio Sommacal received his first career CCAA Track Athlete of the Week award March 3, after winning both the 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles at the Beach Opener at Long Beach State.

The Bronco junior’s finish met the NCAA provisional qualifying standard with a time of 13.99 seconds. This was the best of Sommacal’s career, and a Beach Opener meet record. The blazing fast time put Sommacal as the best in all of Division II.

“It was a great honor, but it was honestly more exciting to see my time in the moment,” Sommacal said. “It is always a great feeling to see the hard work that I am putting in pay off. Everything we do in our sport is for the best time, so to see the one I received was an amazing feeling.”

Sommacal had a long journey getting to where he is now at Cal Poly Pomona. Sommacal is a 2020 graduate of Liceo Galilei High School in Belluno, Italy and a 2018 Italian high school champion in Palermo, Sicily. Sommacal was eager to make the move to Cal Poly Pomona, but it did not come without its ups and downs.

“I came over from Italy my freshman year and there was a steep learning curve that I hit right away,” Sommacal said. “The way that Europeans approach track is very different to how it’s done here in America; it is much more individual-oriented instead of a complete team effort. At first, I was so frustrated learning the different ways that things are done here but I really do feel like I am now becoming very comfortable with it all while still honoring my European roots.”

Sommacal missed out on his freshman season in 2021 due to the pandemic, so his debut for the Broncos began during the 2022 season. That year, he would go on to compete in 26 events for CPP earning personal records in the triple jump at the CCAA Track & Field Championships, with a distance of 14.02 meters, the 200-meter dash at the Franson Classic Collegiate with a time of 21.99 and the 100-meter dash at the 2022 Occidental Distance Carnival and Spring Break Classic with a time of 11.06.

Sommacal (left) has competed in hurdles events for CPP since 2023. | Courtesy of CPP Athletics

Sommacal would follow up the 2022 campaign with another stellar 2023 season that included participation in 17 events with three different PRs. These include a PR in the 110-meter hurdles at the APU Franson Last Chance with a time of 14.13, the 400-meter hurdles at the APU Franson Last Chance with a time of 52.02 and the 400-meter dash at the Ben Brown Invite/AstroAI Distance Classic with a score of 50.68.

“This is my third year at Cal Poly Pomona, and I have felt like I’ve gotten so much better each season I’ve been here,” Sommacal said. “My freshman year transitioning to America was fine, but I always knew that I had more in me to be better.”

Sommacal credits his ability to get better while at CPP to his coaches, but specifically the extra work that he has been putting in with Broncos’ sprint and hurdles assistant coach, Darrell Smith Jr.

“All of my coaches have been super helpful, and coach Darrell Smith in particular has been so important to me during my career here at CPP,” said Sommacal. “I would not be here today without him; he means the world to me.”

Smith is currently in his seventh season with the Broncos and has over 20 years of overall collegiate track experience. Before his current tenure at CPP, Smith served at the University of California, Los Angeles, the United States of America Track & Field Association, Hudson Smith International and the Saudi Arabian Amateur Athletic Federation.

Sommacal now sets his sights on the rest of his season, hoping that this CCAA Track Athlete of the Week award is just the start of something special.

“The race that I received the award for was actually not as sharp as I would have liked it to be, it was a little messy honestly,” Sommacal said. “I think it’s a good thing because it means that there is plenty of room for improvement in my game. My goal is to continue to get better every week and to be as close to perfect as I can be.”

Sommacal and the rest of the CPP men’s track and field team look to continue the positive momentum as they head toward the Aztec Invitational at San Diego State University starting Friday, March 21.

Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics

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