Under the midday heat April 13, with teammates cheering from the sidelines, freshmen Bella Rudis and Promise Johnson had a record breaking day. The two achieved personal season-bests in the long jump and the triple jump events at the third Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Multi-Duals at Occidental College.
Rudis, a business administration major, scored marks of 4.59 meters and 10.32 meters in long jump and triple jump respectively. Johnson, a broadcast journalism and documentary major, reached 9.88 meters in the triple jump. Despite the track and field meet’s size, the excitement in the air was infectious, Rudis said. But she didn’t expect to pull off a personal record-breaking jump.
“I looked back at my mark in the sand, I was like, ‘Wait, that’s better than usual,’” Rudis said. “I had spent the whole season trying to reach that mark, but couldn’t.”
Johnson said the conference meet was a successful “comeback” for her after she injured her right leg after landing on the runway during a triple jump March 8 at the Ben Brown Invitational Meet.
After the injury, Johnson said she wasn’t sure if she would be able to do triple jumps again. She deliberated about whether or not to participate in the meet, but decided to “go for it.”
Johnson and Rudis weren’t the only field athletes to achieve personal bests during the conference meet; senior strategic and corporate communication major Josanni Martinez scored her best in discus throw at the meet, with a mark of 23.08 meters at the Multi-Duals meet. Also, Camryn Hamaguchi, a sophomore business administration major, scored a personal best in shot put with a mark of 10.06 meters at the Collegiate Irwin Scoring Meet at Point Loma Nazarene University March 17.
“Going in, I didn’t feel that confident because it was only my second meet of the season,” Hamaguchi said. “It ended up being a really successful meet, not just for me, but for the entire team.”
The momentum from Hamaguchi’s personal best kept up when freshman health science major Maija Girardi placed third in javelin throw with a 33.12 meter throw at the University of La Verne March 30. Girardi said her throw was an unexpected but “extremely satisfying” triumph.
“Coming in as a freshman, you’re not expected to do incredibly well,” Girardi said.
During the season, in a typical week Girardi said the team practices for three to four hours every day. But Girardi said the team is starting to ease up on training because the SCIAC Championships – which will be held on April 27 and 28 – are approaching.
Johnson said the team’s primary focus has shifted from an emphasis on strength and technique training to staying healthy for the upcoming championship, where Hamaguchi said the Panthers aim to beat Occidental University and Pomona-Pitzer.
“We’re taking nobody lightly,” Hamaguchi said. “They usually finish in the top three or four for SCIAC, so they are our targets.”
For Hamaguchi, Johnson, Girardi and Martinez – this will be their first-ever SCIAC Championships. “As long as we leave our hearts on the track, no matter what happens, we can be proud of ourselves,” Johnson said.