April 8, 2005
BERKELEY, Calif. - If you don't like the weather in Northern California, just wait five minutes.
The Boilermakers endured a mix of sun, clouds, wind and rain during Friday's competitions at the Cal-Berkeley Brutus Hamilton Invitational, but were still able to register a number of solid performances. Excelling through the sporadic weather patterns was the distance trio of David Rae, Kyle Orender and Christan Bahler.
"David and Kyle proved they have All-America potential, if not Big Ten title potential," said head coach Jack Warner. "I also got a better read on Christan. If she keeps running like she did today, she gives me more options for what to do with the distance roster at Big Ten's."
Rae was worthy of his top seeding in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, winning the contest with a season-best and NCAA regional qualifying time of 8:53.75. The junior from Naperville, Ill., led the race from the start, and was only challenged once during the entire course.
With four laps to go, Rae found a second gear and extended his lead as the race progressed, winning by about 20 to 30 meters over runner-up Rob Watson of California. Watson's second-place time was cloaked at 9:02.73.
Rae's performance was followed by an inspiring effort from Bahler, who placed second in the 5,000-meter run with a lifetime best of 17:37.68. Coming into this race, Bahler was seeded fifth with a time of 17:51.00.
Bahler remained in the lead pack through all 12 laps of the race, jostling with Colorado State's Crystal Clark and Washington State's Kelly Ramirez for position. Ramirez dropped back with about four laps remaining, making it a two-woman race between Bahler and Clark, but Bahler could not contain the CSU Ram as she increased her speed to win by about 30-meters (17:27.95).
Unlike Rae and Bahler, who were near or at the front for their entire race, Orender waited to make his move in the 5K. Orender hung back in the pack for the first eight laps of the race, before taking his first lead with four laps remaining. After taking first, Orender never worried about looking back as he kept building his lead lap after lap.
Orender won the race by about 30 meters with a season-best time of 14:21.35. On his final lap, Orender clocked a 400-meter split of 1:04.00.
Having a tougher time with the weather was the hammer throwing duo of Courtney Magnuson and J.P. Smolenski, who both placed third. All throwing events were pushed back an hour due to a downpour early Friday morning, which dropped about two inches of rain onto the track at Edwards Stadium. Rain continued to pass through the stadium off an on through the early afternoon, interferring with the finals of the men's hammer throw and triple jump.
Magnuson's top throw was meaured at 58.25 meters (191 feet-1 inch), while Smolenski recorded a top distance of 64.48 (211-6). Jennifer Jouce, who is an assistant coach at Cal and the Canadian national record holder in the hammer, was first with an effort of 67.32 (220-10) and was followed by Colorado State's Loree Smith, who posted a distance of 65.69 (215-06).
"Courtney had a couple of great throws, which is encouraging to see at a big, competitive meet like this one," said throws coach John Zera."I hope her performance today is a sign of good things to come for her later this season."
Smolenski's throw was the best collegiate effort of the afternoon, as he placed behind the Pac Bay Track Club tandem of Travis Nutter and Luke Woydziak. Nutter won the competition with a launch of 69.86 (229-2) and Woydziak was a distant second at 65.99 (216-6). Colorado State's Adam Trainor, who was ranked ahead of Smolenski in this week's edition of the Trackwire Dandy Dozen, finished fourth at 203-3. Trainor entered the meet ranked third, was Smolenski was ranked sixth.
"I think we're doing good job of representing the Big Ten on the West Coast," said Warner. "We're looking just as good as some of the Pac-10 schools and I hope our performances today can propel us to better ones tomorrow."
The Boilermakers conclude their Western trip Saturday, with the men's pole vault starting at noon (EDT). The last event, the men's 4x400-meter relay, is slated to start at 6 p.m. Weather is expected to be slighlty better, with temperatures in the low 60's.