Keeping pace with the best

Keeping pace with the best

Cal State L.A.’s track and field
programs sustain a history of excellence

Giorgio Bryant is third in the nation in the NCAA Division II for the long jump and a competitive sprinter.Josh Como holds the nation's top mark for the NCAA Division II triple jump.Women's shot putter Na’i Leni has the highest mark for her division and is also fourth in the discus.Julius Joseph recently took home first-place prizes in the shot put and discus at the Division II California Collegiate Conference.Martiza Hernandez won first place in the 10,000 meters at the Division II California Collegiate Conference.Jordan Tyler was named the first-place winner in the men's pole vault at the Division II California Collegiate Conference.

Photos courtesy of Kirby Lee and Darryl Dennis.

When it comes to sustaining track and field excellence, it’s hard to top

Cal State L.A.’s well-respected
men’s and
women’s track and field programs.

Both programs, ranked among the top 20 nationally in the
NCAA Division II, have produced a combined 71 individual champions. At least one
Golden Eagle track and field athlete has competed in 13 of the last 16 Summer
Olympic Games, and 23 team members—representing 10 nations—have qualified for 52
Olympic events, capturing 15 medals (six gold, eight silver and one bronze).

2011 California Collegiate Conference Highlights


2nd place team conference finish

1st place men’s 100 & 200: Giorgio Bryant

1st place long jump: Giorgio Bryant

1st place shot put: Julius Joseph

1st place discus: Julius Joseph

1st place triple jump: Josh Como

2nd place long jump: Josh Como

1st place men’s pole vault: Jordan Tyler

With nine conference titles, the men recorded their second runner-up finish in the past four years.


3rd place team conference finish

1st place shot put: Na’i Leni

1st place discus: Na’i Leni

1st place 10,000 meters: Maritza Hernandez

In seven of the past eight years, women have ranked among the top three in the conference meet.

“I knew when I came here that this was a program with a
rich history and I thought we needed to get the ball rolling again,” said
Christopher Asher, now in his ninth year as the head coach of the men’s and
women’s outdoor track and field, women’s indoor track and field and women’s
cross country teams. “With the help of good assistant coaches we’ve been able
to recruit some top athletes.”

In the last three years, in fact, the Golden Eagles men’s
outdoor track and field team has recorded two top-seven national finishes, and
they are on pace again this season to possibly repeat the feat. At the
California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship in early May, the men’s and women’s teams combined to win 10 individual conference titles.

Among leading competitors are men’s triple jumper
Josh Como and women’s shot putter
Na’i Leni, both of
whom hold the country’s top marks in their best events.

Giorgio Bryant is also
third in the nation in the long jump, followed closely by Como, who is sixth. Leni is also fourth in the women’s discus, and Julius Joseph holds the seventh
spot in the men’s discus. All are assured of competing in the 2011 NCAA Division
II championships. As TODAY went to press, Giorgio Bryant became the NCAA Div. II champion for the long jump, leaping 26-1.50

“I am glad that I came to Cal State L.A. It’s been a great
experience, having fun with my teammates and benefitting from the one-on-one
attention from the coaches. I’ve really enjoyed it because of my teammates and
coaches,” Como said. “It’s been a growing experience for me. Athletics carries
over into your life; you are learning to work toward your goals in life. I’m not
just an athlete, I’m diverse and strive to excel in other areas as well.”

The Golden Eagles have established a reputation for being
fierce national competitors over many years. In the 2008 indoor season,

won an individual championship title in the women’s triple jump. In 2010,
Damein White was national runner-up in the 100 and 200, following a similar
finish in 2009 in the 200 event. And before that, CSULA had national runner-ups
in the 2007 men’s long jump (Kevin Finney), 2005 and 2006 men’s high jump
(Eugene Hutchinson) and 2006 women’s long jump (Keara Norton).

Cal State L.A. has also increased its profile by hosting three big meets in
2011, with three more to come in 2012, including the conference championships for
a third time during Asher’s tenure. Having meets on campus, he said, has helped
“establish an identity” for the program. It gets your name out there nationally… and helps your