Fighting weather that could best be described as dangerous, the UC Davis men’s track and field team chose to play it safe.
The Aggies lost to Sacramento State on Friday by their own accord, falling 99-94 at the Causeway Classic Track and Field Duel at Hornet Stadium.
“We could have won the meet easily,” coach Jon Vochatzer said. “We should have. But I really wanted to protect the group because we are so close to conference and I didn’t want to take chances. As the weather got worse I thought it would be imperative to take guys out to protect them from the elements and potential injury.“
Due to the downpour, no Aggies competed in the 200m, triple jump or meet-ending 4x400m relay. Despite this, the meet was tied going into the 4x400m relay, in which Sac State ran a 3:56 to win the meet. That time was slower than the Aggie women have run this season.
“We lost by five points, and I gave them 24,” Vochatzer said. “We didn’t put people in three events, so we gave them 24 points to win the meet. Of course winning the meet would have been nice, but I didn’t want to [risk injury]. Our real business is down at Irvine in two weeks.“
The throwers had an especially tough time, as the rain not only made getting good marks near impossible, but made keeping one’s balance while performing their techniques quite difficult.
“That was definitely the worst conditions I have ever thrown in,” sophomore Eddie Orgon said. “They had to flood all the rings because when there is about an inch or so of water in the ring, the water from our shoes sticks a lot better to the ring surface. However, if you are at all off balance out there, you will most likely fall pretty hard. All we could do was go in there and trust the technique.“
Still, the Aggies overcame the weather to put together some solid performances, as they won nine of 17 individual events, including five 1-2 sweeps. As the meet was scored 5-3-2-1, with each school only able to score in two positions, those five sweeps gave the Aggies a huge boost. Sac State also went 1-2 in five events, although two of those were in the uncontested 200m and triple jump.
In the field, Orgon was the highest point scorer, winning the shot put (15.01m) and taking second in the discus throw (42.48m) and hammer throw (45.16m).
“Considering the conditions, 15m is a solid throw,” Orgon said. “Any other day I would be disappointed with that, but it was good enough for the win and that is what mattered today. On my first throw, as I was planting my left foot in the finish, I wasn’t quite over it enough and it completely slipped right out from under me. I had to fight not to fall over.“
Though the driving wind and rain kept the times sub-par, it didn’t take away from the expected domination in some key events.
Junior Jazz Trice won the 110m hurdles by .24 seconds, sophomore Thomas Phillips took the 400m by over half a second, and junior Alex Wilright captured the 400m hurdles by just over 1.5 seconds. Wilright finished nearly 10 seconds before the first Sac State athlete, though the Hornets fielded their number three and four steeplechasers in the event so as not to sacrifice the three points.
The one double winner for the Aggies was junior Jon Sees, who captured both the 1,500m and 800m, scoring a team-high 10 points. Sees first crushed the field in the 1,500m with a blistering last lap to clock 3:58.40, winning by over 1.5 seconds. Then, despite being the only athlete in the race who had competed earlier that day, Sees worked the field in the 800m to finish in 1:53.55 and win by just under two seconds.
But even with such solid performances, the Aggies had to leave Sacramento less than completely satisfied
“Overall, the day was a bit disappointing,” Orgon said. “The weather kept the marks lower than usual, which kind of made it feel like a battle of mediocrity. Though it was a good test of our toughness as a team and as individuals, which is where we can walk away with our heads high.“
ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.