It’s been 120 years since the tradition started, but the competitive spirit and the impressive displays of athleticism that characterize Big Meet are still going strong. The changes the meet has faced are innumerable, like the inclusion of female athletes in 1980, but the rivalry between Cal and Stanford is still heated. This year, the Bears will be especially eager for revenge since the Cardinal men have won the past six meetings between the two teams, while the Cardinal women have won the last two.
On Saturday, the Bay Area rivals will face off at Stanford’s Cobb Track and Angell Field. At risk is not only the pride of both teams but also many long-standing Big Meet records.
Stanford junior Kori Carter is hungry for the 400-meter hurdle record. Carter returned to the Stanford campus two weeks ago with a spot on the Bowerman watch list after taking first place in the event at the Jim Click Shootout in Tucson, Arizona.
With her 54.71 second time—the fastest in the world so far this year—Carter beat out 2012 Olympics finalist and Arizona runner Georganne Moline, but for the Cardinal senior, it was no big deal.
“The race wasn’t perfect, I didn’t hit my step pattern at all so I definitely think I can go faster,” Carter said. “My goal is to be an NCAA Champion this year, so that race just tells me that I’m on the right track, but I know there’s still a lot of work left to get [to the Championships].”
Carter, a seven-time All-American, will also be competing in the 100-meter hurdles to defend her Pac-12 title and possibly challenge the 13.18 100-meeter hurdle Big Meet record set in 2010 by Cal’s Kimyom Broom.
Although last year’s Big Meet was hardly close—the Stanford men won 106-57 and the Stanford women won 122-41—this time around the Bears are ready. The Cal men are ranked ninth, partly because of their secret weapons: freshman Ethan Cochran and Hammed Suleman. Cochran recently grabbed Cal’s school record in the discus with a throw of 188-8 and Suleman is ranked second nationally in the triple jump.
On the women’s side, the Bears’ Kelsey Santisteban, ranked No. 8 nationally in the 5000 meters, will surely pose a challenge to Stanford’s nine-time first-team All-American honoree Kathy Kroeger. Cal’s Amanda Hunter will by vying with Stanford’s Jordan Merbeck for the triple-jump title after she jumped 42-0.50 this past indoor season.
In general, though, the field events should fare well for the Cardinal. The combined power of throwers Geoffrey Tabor and Brianna Bain will be key in the only dual meet of the Stanford season.
“Since it’s only a dual meet we’ll have a few people competing in events they are not used to competing in so we can try and score some extra points,” Bain said.
Freshman Olympian Steven Solomon will be making his debut for Stanford this weekend, running the 400 and the 4×400 meter relay for the Cardinal. Freshly back from injury leave, Solomon will be an important force this season and hopefully breathe new energy into a faltering men’s sprints team.
This Saturday, Cal will test Stanford’s distance dominance, with efforts from top national 1500-meter runner Jordan Locklear, who has run a personal record of 3:45.14. The Cardinal will have to lean on the consistency of distance runners Michael Atchoo, Tyler Stutzman, and Luke Lefebure.
It will be important this weekend for each runner to step up, though, especially since all points matter in a closely competitive dual meet. Lefebure credited the entire team for stepping up during the indoor season.
“Last year, we graduated several top guys, and probably the biggest challenge this year has been establishing our own identity as a team,” Lefebure said. “Our indoor school records in the Mile and DMR fell this indoor season, so I think we’ve really met that challenge head-on and overcome it.”
Events will start at 10:15 a.m. this Saturday.
“Every point matters so each race will be a big race,” Carter said. “This meet is all about a concerted team effort.”
Contact Anna Blue at ablue ‘at’ stanford.edu.