It’s the first year under Cal Poly’s new Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, Ryan Vanhoy, and so far in his time, he helped recapture a Big West title in the Fall followed up with multiple athletes setting school records during the indoor season.
“I think given the opportunities to compete a little bit more than maybe they had in the past, we felt confident that we'd see some performances that were equivalent to what we ended up producing," Vanhoy said.
Now, it’s outdoor track and field season and momentum is on their side.
“[We have] a lot of optimism and good momentum," Vanhoy added. "We emphasized our indoor season this year a bit more than Cal Poly had in the past.”
Though not an official NCAA sport on the men’s side for Cal Poly, the indoor season saw program firsts all around. Redshirt sophomore, Aidan McCarthy, who was part of the Men’s Cross Country Championship team this past fall, ran a sub 4-minute mile at the Boston University Last Chance Invitational alongside his teammate Xian Shively.
“It was something that we had on our mind going into indoor," McCarthy said. "I think for a few of the guys on the team, that was our main goal because ever since Vanhoy has gotten to Cal Poly, he's said that's one of our main goals for the indoor season.”
On the women’s indoor side, junior Shelby Daniele broke the school’s 200-meter indoor record at the Don Kirkby Invitational.
“It was definitely really exciting," Daniele explained. "The last few years before this year, I wasn't able to do as well [but with] a new coach and great workouts it's really helped me a lot.”
Along with Daniele, Jadyn Snaer, Melody Nwagwu and Carissa Buchholz also set school records in the 60-Meter dash, Long Jump and 5,000 meter race.
“Initially, I think being that we have a lot of athletic ability on this team, especially this year, it is nice to be able to have people to train with," Daniele added. "You're pushing each other every day because you're both breaking records. It's not just one of you.”
The outdoor season is now in full swing entering their third week but this week holds more weight as the Mustangs are set to host the first ever Conover Classic; a meet in honor of the former Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, Mark Conover, who had been at the helm of the program for 25 years before passing away after a fierce battle with cancer in April of 2022.
“Mark's legacy on this program is immense," Vanhoy stated. "He had a lot of success over many years. He touched a lot of athletes over the years, affected so many people's lives from the numerous alumni that'll be back for the meet. It's a chance to celebrate what he meant to them.”
Conover was a 20-time Big West Conference Coach of the year, 1988 Olympian, two-time NCAA National Champion and one of the most successful coaches in Cal Poly's history. The Conover Classic will take place March 24-25 going all day both days.