Injury-Depleted Track Motivated for Big Meet





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Numbers, records and talent mean only so much.

Tomorrow at 10:30 a.m., is the Big Meet with Stanford for the Cal track and field team, and they're not going to listen to any negativity.

"What's on paper can be thrown out the window," distance coach Tony Sandoval said.

Last year the Cardinal won the annual dual meet, but that was at Stanford. This year, the Cardinal must compete at Edwards Stadium where the Bears have never lost in the 108-year history of the meet.

"We're going to come out and make a good showing," said junior shot putter Zachariah Whittington. "A lot of people are going to be surprised."

Stanford is a strong favorite on the men's side and a favorite overall, but that doesn't discourage Cal's athletes.

"I remember in 2000, we were underdogs, every newspaper had written us off," senior hammer thrower Jennifer Joyce said. "Then we came from behind and pulled off the upset."

Still, on paper, Stanford's men are far superior to Cal's men, who are injury-depleted.

The Bears will be without a number of critical athletes. Most painful will be the absence of junior Robert Kennedy, who would have competed in the long jump, triple jump and 100-meter events. He is out for the year with a severely injured hamstring.

A number of players are doubtful for this weekend's match. Senior javelin thrower Matt Blair, junior long jumper Vincent Ibia and senior Jason Manly, who competes in the 100 meters are all questionable for this weekend.

"It's a test of our will power and strength as a team," Whittington said of the injuries. "A lot of us have been feeding off the energy of others who have been hurt, using it to our advantage to go beyond expectations."

To compensate for the injuries, coaches have been trying players at different positions

One of those versatile players is junior javelin thrower Joe Berro. In addition to his event, he will partake in the discus and the hammer throw.

"I don't care about Mt. SAC relays, I don't care about the Woody Wilson Invitational, all I care about is the Big Meet," Berro said.

Last year at the Big Meet, Berro participated in the javelin, despite only practicing the event for a month.

"I threw with a primal rage," he said.

His throw was good enough to qualify for the Pac-10 Championships.

This meet goes beyond the stat sheet and final score. To coaches and players it is a tradition and a time to rally behind their school.

"The fact that we're part of something that's been going on for over 100 years is something special," said head coach Erv Hunt, who himself is participating in his 31st Big Meet.

According to hurdles coach Joy Margerum, the team has been wearing gold and blue all week and forbidding any red clothing.

"It's exciting to see us come together as a team," Margerum said. "In spirit, we're ready to go."

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