Track and Field: Despite Big Effort, Bears Drop Big Meet

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Down the stretch, Erin Belger was 30 meters behind Stanford freshman Lindsey Smith.

In front of the home crowd in the Big Meet, she wasn't going to go down easily.

The senior runner used a burst of speed and then ducked at the finish line in a last-ditch effort in the 4x400 relay.

Several minutes later, Belger was still recovering from her run while the officials tried to sort out the results.

In the end, they decided that her heroic effort was just short-Stanford 3 minutes 43.15 seconds, Cal 3 minutes 43.16 seconds.

The best the Bears could give was just not good enough Saturday at Edwards Stadium in the 108th dual meet with rival Stanford.

Cal's athletes gave it their all, pushing their bodies to the max in order to compensate for the Cardinal's superiority in numbers.

"We knew we were shorthanded, things weren't looking so good," distance coach Tony Sandoval said. "But the kids responded. There's nothing like a Big Meet to bring out the best on both sides."

The Bears set 18 personal bests, two school records and three records for the Big Meet.

Stanford also set three Big Meet records and one school record.

The Cardinal swept the Bears, beating the men 94-69 and the women 101-62.

It was the first time that Cal's men had lost to the Card at home since 1966.

This year has been a struggle for the Bears men. They have dealt with a number of injuries to key competitors.

"(Stanford) had too many weapons," said senior Jelani Hogg, who has a severely injured

hamstring. "We have weapons, they're just on reserve. I'm sure next year, those on reserve will be ready to retaliate."

To compensate for the lack of depth, the Bears had to run their best competitors in more than one event.

Belger's courageous effort in the 4x400 came after she won the 800- meters with a mark of 2:04.39, the second fastest time in the nation.

The time was also Belger's best in her career. When asked about the incredible effort she gave on Saturday, Belger made it clear that the challenge of a dual meet was a factor.

"It was the love of pure competition," Belger said. "One on one, bone to bone, blood to blood."

Senior Marielle Schlueter placed second in the steeplechase but aggravated a injured foot in the process. Her capsiluar strain was clearly bothering her in the 5000m, and she couldn't challenge Stanford's Sara Bei.

Other Bears used the Big Meet as a time to show fans just what they are capable of.

Senior Jennifer Joyce has been on a tear recently, and this weekend was no exception. The Vancouver native broke her own school record and Canadian record in the hammer throw with a mark of 214-0. Her old mark was set just two weeks ago at the Mount SAC Relays. She also scored 178-3 in the discus last week at the UC San Diego Open, a personal best and second best in Cal history.

Cal's fans rallied around senior pole vaulter Bubba McLean. The home crowd clapped their hands and McLean responded to their enthusiasm with a first-place and personal-best mark of 18 feet, 1/2 inches. The mark is a provisional qualifier for the NCAA Championships and a Big Meet record.

"I was getting positive vibes for sure," McLean said of the crowd.


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