Coe first in mile but fails to break four minutes in home finale

Photo: Mike Morrison finished fourth in the Brent Burns Pole Vault with a mark of 15-11.00. During the indoor season, the senior set a school record in the heptathlon at the NCAAs.
Kevin Foote/Staff
Mike Morrison finished fourth in the Brent Burns Pole Vault with a mark of 15-11.00. During the indoor season, the senior set a school record in the heptathlon at the NCAAs.

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The crowd at Edwards Stadium let out a groan when Cal's Michael Coe barely missed a sub-four minute mile with a winning time of 4:00.07 at this weekend's Brutus Hamilton Invitational.

The home of the Bears' track and field team has seen one of its own break that milestone in the Don Bowden Mile each of the last three years. David Torrence and Steve Sodaro surpassed it in 2008 and 2010, respectively, and Coe set the school record with 3:56.18 in 2009.

He couldn't repeat the performance.

"We're sort of disappointed that we broke our streak of four-minute miles," coach Tony Sandoval said. "We would've liked to have been a little faster but it just wasn't meant to be."

Even though the streak was broken, the fact that the mark was on the cusp is a promising sign for Coe, who missed all of the winter season with an Achilles tendon injury and could only start training again four or five weeks ago.

"I haven't won one of these big invitational races in a while, or just a race period," Coe said. "Back a couple years ago I was winning races all the time, for me just to get a win under my belt is definitely a confidence boost."

He is quickly regaining momentum. Last week, Coe competed for the first time since the fall cross country season and finished third with a 3:44.95 in the slightly shorter 1500m.

On Saturday, Coe came from behind and passed several other competitors in the final 150 meters of the mile. He crossed the finish line less than two seconds ahead of the unattached runner-up.

"The first three laps is to separate the contenders from the pretenders and the real race starts when you get to the last quarter," said Sandoval, who hadn't seen a comparable final stretch from Coe since his personal record at the same meet two years ago.

"He put on a serious kick and beat some pretty good people."

Racing his last ever home meet, Coe was one of 25 seniors honored in Saturday afternoon's ceremony. Their hard work during their careers at Cal were commemorated in front of the stands packed with thousands of fans - including many of the athletes' families.

"To be honored on our own track in front of all the fans, it was definitely a special moment," Coe said. "The Cal track and field team is like a family, I've been grateful to be a part of it with great coaches and great teammates."

Two other seniors went out as winners in their Edwards Stadium swan songs. Cherrelle Garrett captured the 200m title with a season-best time of 23.93 seconds, and Patrick Kowalsky won the shot put with a throw of 55-6.25.

"It's a very emotional time for all of us because some of those (athletes) have had to come from some very humble backgrounds," Sandoval said. "They have had their struggles academically and athletically and to get to be able to both graduate and finish their college careers on a high note is a very special time."


Byron Atashian covers track.

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