SF State President Leslie E. Wong was just another fan in the crowd Friday until he proudly reached up to ring the bell that echoed across campus as the Gators looped around for their final lap of the steeplechase.
Teams from all corners of the U.S. came together in the Golden State for the largest home meet in the history of SF State track and field. The 7th Distance Carnival at Cox Stadium hosted 1,300 athletes from 150 teams across 24 total states over the weekend.
Things have transformed since its early days when there were merely a 100 athletes competing in 2008. But head coach Tom Lyons has worked tirelessly to expand it to include all the championship events and a couple more, pushing it two full days. Not to mention well over 1,000 athletes this time around.
“It was extremely well received,” Lyons said. “I love hosting so many teams from all over the country and seeing it continue to grow.”
But Lyons said he is always working to top the last, and make the next year’s meet the ultimate in Gator history. He is already starting on the planning for 2015.
“In the last month (before the meet), I spend every waking hour outside of coaching on getting ready,” he said. “It’s worth it.”
Since the team was coming off of spring break the week before, Lyons said the coaches were expecting the athletes to get back into competition mode without focusing too much on setting top marks.
But Ashley Black had something else in mind for her vacation.
“I didn’t take days off during spring break,” said Black. “(I thought), if my competitor isn’t taking a day off, then I shouldn’t either.” She trained hard, every single day.
Black went into this two-day meet with five events, unlike most of her competitors.
“I knew it was going to be stressful,” Black said. “I had to mimic how the heptathlon was going to go and with that in mind I went in with a determined mindset.”
But she overcame the stress and made a lifetime best in the 100m hurdles clocking in at 15.25, .40 faster than her previous time.
And her leap in the long jump at 5.65m tied the school record set by Aziza Bledsoe in 2003.
“I broke a personal record,” she said. “It’s great to see all hard work that I did in practice actually turn out in competitions.”
And now, she said, these results are propelling her forward with newfound confidence for the upcoming conference.
Janesha Anthony also had a good day on the track with her second fastest career mark in the 100m sprint at 1.96, .2 off her personal record.
She said she couldn’t have hoped for a better meet to come back on, not to mention she added that their T-shirts almost sold out, an exciting thing for the Gators.
And Kareezia Younger‘s sub-60 4×4 relay split was an impressive way to conclude the meet over the weekend, where the Gators placed fourth overall and beat last year’s record. She placed 5th in the high jump, clearing the bar at 1.53m.
“I would say my performance was pretty hit and miss,” Younger said. “I stayed consistent in my running events but did poorly in my high jump performance.”
“The mental aspect of high jump is just as important as the physical,” Younger said. “I didn’t have the pressure of being away from my home field.” Surprisingly, she was too comfortable at Cox Stadium and didn’t do her best.
Saturday, April 12, the Gators will travel to Chico for a small meet, and then two more meets the following week as the Conference Championships are fast approaching May 1 to 3 at UCSD.