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Mustangs Compete on Final Day of NCAA West Regional Championships

Mustangs Compete on Final Day of NCAA West Regional Championships

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Cal Poly had six more student-athletes compete at the NCAA Track & Field Championships' West Preliminary Round on Saturday, as the Mustangs closed out the three-day meet held at Kansas. For the first time since Wednesday, conditions were sunny and clear at Rock Chalk Park, with temperatures peaking at 73 degrees.

In the early-morning men's discus competition, Arnie Sambel moved up 10 spots from his seed mark coming in, finishing in 38th place with a throw 161 feet, 9 inches.

Sambel will enter his senior season next spring as a back-to-back regionals qualifier, with a PR of 175 feet (tied for fourth all-time at Cal Poly).

Later on, in the women's 1,500 meters, Mustang freshman Katie Izzo rose up 14 rankings from her entry time, finishing 25th in the quarterfinals with a time of 4 minutes, 26.16 seconds.

Izzo, an all-conference honoree after taking third at the Big West Championships (along with the conference title in the 5,000m), will return as a sophomore having already clocked the 10th-fastest time in school history (4:22.95). 

The meet, featuring 120 programs west of the Mississippi River, sent top-12 finishers to the national finals at Oregon (along with qualifiers from the East Regional hosted by North Florida) from June 8-11 on ESPN.

Another Mustang freshman, Peyton Bilo, came in 18th place in the women's 5,000, at 16:42.83. With the 11th position in Heat 1, she was only four spots back of advancing to Eugene, as Texas junior Sandie Raines clinched the last berth at 16:25.87.

With a season-best performance of 16:13.55, Bilo will head into her sophomore year with the No. 5 ranking in school history. (She's also the defending Big West 10K champion.)

In the ensuing opening heat for the men's 5,000, Cal Poly junior Clayton Hutchins led the pack with just over three laps to go, in front of combined 13-time individual NCAA champion Edward Cheserek of Oregon, while also battling Sean McGorty of Stanford.

It was then that Cheserek made his move, separating on the way to winning in 14:10.66, ahead of McGorty at 14:12.52. Hutchins finished 27th overall (jumping 21 spots from his seed) with a time of 14:32.62, while junior teammate Swarnjit Boyal was 41st at 15:19.90.

Portland senior William Kincaid would go on to edge Cheserek for the upcoming No. 1 seed on his home track, taking Heat 2 in 14:09.13.

Both Mustang runners will go into their senior years looking to move up on the school's all-time top 10 leaderboard for the event, in which Boyal is eighth (at 14:02.40) and Hutchins (the Big West runner-up) is just 1.68 seconds away from 10th (14:05.84). (Boyal was also a recent all-conference honoree in the 10K.)

Cal Poly senior Kendal Nielsen also competed in the women's triple jump, finishing 40th with a mark of 39 feet, 6 inches.

Nielsen won the Big West championship on May 14 at 42' 6.25" while advancing to her third straight postseason. She finished her career ranked No. 3 in school history.

Five Mustangs also competed on Friday after Thursday's schedule was postponed due to weather.

Photo of Clayton Hutchins by FloTrack