Track and Field season begins to heat up

Ali Benzerara, Sports Editor

The Bear Cubs men’s and women’s track and field teams wrapped up their fourth invitational meet of the season against Beaver College in Sacramento on March 4. Team members are attempting to hit qualifying times for the state championships and recreate the success of the 2015-16 season during which they placed 12th overall in the state and took home 13 medals, including a state championship in the decathlon.

“As things progress, I see things get better and better. So if we match what we did last year great. If not, as long as we’re improving as a whole, I’m happy,” said fifth year head coach David Wellman.

During the all-relays meet in Sacramento, which didn’t count towards the team’s overall record, two Santa Rosa Junior College track athletes earned state championship qualifying scores. Sophomore Adam Gockel qualified with a state “A” standard score in the decathlon with 6,549 points (the current world record, held by the U.S.’s Ashton Eaton, is 9,045 points). Gockel is currently ranked first in the nation among all community college decathletes. Pretty impressive for someone in only his second season competing in track and field.

“He came to us [last year] and said ‘Hey I can do lots of pull-ups, maybe I should try pole vaulting,’ then he tried javelin and did that really well, and then he tried hurdling and did that really well too,” Wellman said.

In addition to Gockel’s state qualifying time for the decathlon, first-year athlete Alyssa Stewart scored enough points in the Heptathlon-B to qualify for the Nor-Cal Championship, with a score of 3,564.

In addition to outstanding performances from Gockel and Stewart, the women’s and men’s track and field teams as a whole are looking promising. Wellman expects to have a few sprinters “flirting with the ‘A’ standard” this semester. He also expects great things from his throwers, including sophomore Mickie Seuga, who finished the meet with a shot-put throw of 11.92 meters, a hammer throw of 35.96m and a discus throw of 35.96m.

“We have a lot of potential in the sprints and the relays, and all across the board actually. Distance runners, we are still kind of working there a little bit, but by the end of this season we will have some quality distance runners that will put pressure on some people in our conference,” Wellman said.

With all of this talent, Wellman is looking to improve his program by implementing more structured plyometric training and weightlifting programs. Last year’s state champion decathlete, SRJC’s Kasey Mancini, has been brought on board as an assistant coach to help train this year’s athletes.

With a well-rounded team in the works for the 2016-17 season, the Bear Cubs are looking promising as they continue to fill their roster with state-qualifying athletes.