Matadors shine at MPSF Championships, but miss NCAA tournament

Photo courtesy of CSUN Athletic Communications.

Lyle Yoergler, Staff Writer

As the Matadors returned to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Championships for the first time since 2020, they came in with high expectations, hoping to win enough events to give CSUN a chance at qualifying for the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships. As a team, the Matadors set new records and raised the bar higher for future CSUN track and field teams.

“I was very impressed with how the team carried themselves throughout the entire season,” head coach Justin Johnson said. “Every meet we went to, we came in with a lot of energy, a lot of support for one another, and you saw that kind of translate onto the track and how we were able to perform.”

Perhaps the biggest standout was Logan Davis. The freshman set a school record of 6.64 seconds in the 60-meter dash to become the first CSUN athlete to win the event since Rashad Allen in 2004.

Not only did Davis win the 60-meter dash with a 6.64 time, but he also took home gold in the 400-meter dash with a time of 47.23, making him the first CSUN athlete to win two individual competitions at the MPSF Championships since Allen. This gave Davis a chance at qualifying for the NCAA Division I Indoor Championship, but ultimately, none of the Matadors were selected.

“My 400 is my main event so I care for it more, I get more nervous for that event, and I feel like those nerves really hinder what I can actually do,” Davis said. “So going into outdoor, I want to work on that.”

The freshman said that competing against these top dogs and finishing at the top made him realize that he belongs with the competition, after he struggled with that in high school. The day before the event, Davis likes to lay out his uniform to prepare for the meet so he doesn’t have to worry about it.

“That’s just something I do to get it all ready and make sure I have everything,” Davis said. “It kind of calms me down.”

Another standout, David Phillips Jr., completed the men’s sprints sweep by posting a masterful 21.02 time in the 200-meter dash, setting a historic achievement for the men’s team at CSUN, which hasn’t won three events in an MPSF Indoor Championship since 1993. Noah Contreras also reached the podium, placing third in the men’s 800-meter with a time of 1 minute, 52.98 seconds, the eighth fastest in school history. Bryson Williams reached the podium in the triple jump, posting a season best 48 feet, 2 1/2 inches.

Guillermo Lopez recorded a season-best toss of 53-11 3/4 to earn fourth place in shot put, and Elijah Ignacio recorded a season-best toss of 49-2 1/2 to cap off a strong day for CSUN shot put.

For the women’s team, Arianna Alexander finished fourth in the 60-meter sprint with a time of 7.49 seconds, and Alba Moreno Paredes finished eighth in high jump with a 5-1 3/4 jump, tying with Elizabeth Churchill of UC Davis. Charne-Lee Olkers finished fourth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.71.

Olkers is back competing at the highest collegiate level after suffering injuries in her first two years with the team, and feels good about her progress since then.

“I’ve been pretty injured for the past couple years. So getting back and being able to just get on the track and compete again was in itself a great thing overall,” Olkers said. ”But coming in every meet and then ‘PRing’ and lifetime best every time that I ran was something that I truly didn’t expect.”

Olkers said she likes to visualize the race the day before she runs it, so she can picture how it might go and be prepared the next day. She also has a ritual she does going into the blocks the day of each meet.

“I have two different socks that I always wear. I have a neon one, and then usually on the second day I do a white one,” Olkers said. “I’ve always done it since I was a little kid.”

Three other women finished in the top 10 for the Matadors. Kaliyah Poston finished ninth in the 60-meter prelims, while Brianna Kelpis finished ninth in the pentathlon. Katherine Shipp-Davis finished 10th in the women’s shot put.

The women’s team capped off the MPSFs 10th overall, the best finish the Matadors have had in the championships since 2017, while the men’s team had its best performance since 2003, finishing fourth. Brigham Young University won both the men’s and women’s competitions.

The CSUN track and field athletes will now prepare for the outdoor season, which starts on March 8 with two events in Santa Barbara.