Track and Field: Montano aims high at Worlds

Former Cal star Alysia Johnson Montano begins her quest Thursday to become the first American woman to medal in the 800 meters at the IAAF World Championships.

Montano, who was fourth in this event two years ago by a scant .06 seconds, is projected by the experts at Track and Field News to finish in that same slot at Moscow.

But her coach, Cal’s Tony Sandoval, believes she can exceed those expectations.

“I really expect her to run very well. I expect a PR from her,” he said. “Hopefully, she’s on the podium.”

Montano, 27, has a personal best of 1 minute, 57.34 seconds. She has broken 1:58 the past four years and has won five USA national titles.

At London last summer, she was fifth in the Olympic final.

But not since Kim Gallagher, with a silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, has an American woman won a medal at 800 meters in either of the two major international championships.

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Track: Montano runs season-best in Paris

Ex-Cal star and 2012 Olympian Alysia Montano ran a season-best time of 1 minute, 57.75 seconds to finish third at an IAAF Diamond League meet in Paris on Saturday.

Her time is the fastest by an American this season, moves her to No. 3 on the 2013 world list and marks the fourth straight season Montano has run a sub-1:58 time.

World leader Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi won in a time of 1:57.26.


Track: Ex-Cal star Torrence runs swift 1,500m

Former Cal track star David Torrence ran the fastest 1,500-meter time by an American this year at a meet in Tomblaine, France.

Torrence clocked 3 minutes, 34.19 seconds to finish third in the race at the Stanislas de Nancy meet. The time converts to 3:51.3 for the mile — the same time Jim Ryun ran at Berkeley’s Edwards Stadium in 1966 to set the world record.

Torrence, 27, now sits alone at No. 20 on the all-time U.S. list for the 1,500.

In 2007, he broke Cal’s 50-year-old school record in the mile, running 3:58.62 to eclipse the mark of 3:58.7 set by Don Bowden in 1957 — a time that made him the first American to break the 4-minute barrier.


Track: Montano wins 4th straight USA crown

Former Cal star Alysia Montano became the first woman to win four straight 800-meter titles at the USA national track and field championships on Sunday at Des Moines, Iowa.

Fifth at the London Olympics last summer, Montano wants more at the IAAF World Championships at Moscow in August.

“I’ve been hoping for No. 1 for a really long time,” she said. “It’s about being patient. It will come. You’ve gotta remember it’s about the climb.”

Montano blasted to a huge lead by running 56.8 seconds for the first lap and held off a late push from Brenda Martinez to win in a season-best time of 1:58.67.

“I can’t see what’s happening behind me, I don’t have eyes in the back of my head, but I knew it was going to be a race and I was excited for it,” Montano said after winning her fifth national title.

Cal’s Ray Stewart bowed out in the semifinal round of the 110 hurdles, finishing seventh in his heat in a wind-aided time of 13.56.


Track: Khalfani Muhammad 2nd in 200m at Jr nationals

Cal football recruit Khalfani Muhammad finished second on Friday in the 200-meter final at the USA Junior National Track and Field Championships at Des Moines, Iowa.

Muhammad, who was fifth in the 100 the day before, ran a wind-aided time of 20.97 seconds, finishing behind UC Riverside sophomore-to-be Just’N Tymes (tremendous name, huh?), who crossed in 20.61.

Muhammad ran 21.14 in the morning semifinals into a strong headwind before officials changed the direction sprinters would run in the final. Thus, his final time was aided by a 4.0 meters-per-second trailing wind.

The two-state California high school state meet champ in the 100 and 200, Muhammad will play running back for the Bears next fall.


Track: Khalfani Muhammad 5th at Jr. nationals

Incoming football freshman Khalfani Muhammad, the two-time 100- and 200-meter California high school state meet champ, finished fifth in the 100 Thursday at the USA Junior Nationals at Des Moines, Iowa.

Muhammad, who will play running back for the Bears in the fall, ran 10.87 seconds into a fierce wind of 4.8 meters per second, which translated to nearly 11 mph.

Meanwhile, ex-Cal star and Olympic finalist Alysia Montano ran the fastest prelim time in the women’s 800 at the senior meet at the same facility. Montano, gunning for her fourth straight national title, crossed in 2:01.96. She runs the semifinals on Friday.

Another Cal grad, David Torrence, grabbed the final non-automatic qualifying spot for the final of the men’s 1,500 meters — by a margin of 0.003 seconds. Torrence ran sixth in his heat, ninth overall, with a time of 3:41.70. The 1,500 final is Saturday.


Track and field: Ex-Cal star Montano set for USAs

Former Cal star Alysia Montano begins her quest for a fourth straight USA outdoor title in the 800-meter run on Thursday at the national championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

Montano, a fifth-place finisher at the London Olympics last summer, has run just once outdoors this season, clocking 1:59.43 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.

She was beaten there by largely unheralded American Brenda Martinez, a 25-year-old UC Riverside grad, whose personal-best mark of 1:58.18 at Pre is the fastest by an American this season. Martinez will run in Heat 3 of the first round on Thursday.

Montano, set to run in Heat 4, has broken 1:58 each of the past three seasons. She has won a total of four USA outdoor titles: 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Semifinals are set for Friday with the finals on Sunday. The top three finishers qualify to represent the U.S. at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Aug. 10-18.


Track: Bears’ Payton 10th in NCAA long jump

Cal junior Malaina Payton finished 10th in the women’s long jump at the NCAA championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Payton leaped 20 feet, 7 inches on her second attempt, missing by 3/4 of an inch of advancing to the finals with nine others.

Cal’s 4×100-meter relay team of Julis Travis, Tom Blocker, Chad Jones and Dash Oliver finished seventh in its heat and 22nd overall with a time of 40.68. The Bears were competing in the 4×100 relay at the NCAA meet for the first time since 1977.



Track: Cal football signee Khalfani Muhammad defends CIF state 100m and 200m sprint titles

Man, is this kid fast.

Khalfani Muhammad, who will play football at Cal next fall, defended his 2012 CIF state meet titles in the 100 and 200 meters on Saturday at Clovis. And he wasn’t really challenged.

A 5-foot-8 senior at Notre Dame HS in Sherman Oaks, Muhammad equaled his personal best with a wind-legal 10.33-second clocking to win the 100. He came back to capture the 200 20.86, also a legal time.

Muhammad ranks third and fourth nationally among HS sprinters in the 100 and 200, respectively.

Earlier, he helped his team with a No. 9 seed and difficult outside lane position to a third-place finish in the 4×100 relay with a time of 41.01.