Sacramento State track and field won each of the five-point Causeway Cup meets against UC Davis on April 2, but it was the Aggies who took the trophy back to Davis this year.
Of the 18 NCAA teams that compete in the name of each school, three control 10 Causeway Cup points. Football, men’s and women’s basketball control three-tenths of all Causeway Cup points and UC Davis was victorious in all three.
But it was before any of these teams met when the Aggies went on what would turn out to be a 32.5 point run. It all started Sept. 26 when the women’s golf team gave up 2.5 points to the Aggies when the Hornets and Aggies met for a three-day golf tournament.
After day one, Sac State was 17th in the tournament; Davis was first. The Aggies would eventually lose some ground and finish fourth, but not nearly enough to allow for the Hornets, who remained in 17th place, to catch up.
At that point the Hornets lost the tie for the Cup, the Aggies took the lead 17.5-15. But the Causeway Classic was up next and football was ready to win its third straight classic.
Head coach Marshall Sperbeck is 2-2 when fighting for the 10 cup points his team controls. But it would turn out that, among other games, a 17-16 loss would be what did the Hornets in for the race for the Cup.
In 2010, Jeff Fleming hooked up for 23 touchdowns and handed the ball off for touchdowns 12 times to his running back, homegrown talent Bryan Hilliard. Hilliard struggled through the 2010 season with an ankle injury that would eventually take him out of the classic.
Fleming was left without his right-hand man. The Hornets led early but gave up a 13-point lead in the second half. The Aggies eventually won their 40th Classic in 58 years.
“I’ll be honest with you: I don’t really think about the Causeway Cup, I think about the Causeway Classic,” Sperbeck said. “That’s the only thing I concern myself with. The rest of the teams they probably feel the same way, all they can do is win their game. It’s like being on a team, you’ve got to take care of your job and the rest of the team takes care of theirs.
The men’s soccer team was able to win its Causeway game for the Hornets for the first time since 2005.
The Hornets had just come back from an East Coast tour where they lost two games against North Carolina State and 11th-ranked Duke. The Hornets won the Causeway game 2-1, but head coach Michael Linenberger saw the game as an important stepping stone.
“We got on a nice little roll after that, Linenberger said. “It was a very important result for us and the season.”
The men were 1-2 afterward with their only win at home. It was a team goal to remain undefeated at home and the men pulled it off, even beating UC Irvine at their home. The men went on to earn a NCAA Tournament berth. They defeated Santa Clara University, but the team’s season came to an end in the second round against UCLA.
They were the first Hornet team to sting the Aggies in 2010.
“We hadn’t beaten Davis in a couple years, so we emphasized to our guys all week long that that particular game had a lot of meaning to us,” Linenberger said. “Not only did we win, we won in dominating fashion. Even though the score didn’t show it, it was one-way traffic almost the entire game.”
The Cup’s final destination of 2010 was sealed Feb. 23 on Davis’ softball diamond. The Aggies won a one-run game on two unearned runs. After that, the Hornet women dropped to 1-6 on the year. The softball team fell to UC Davis in every game this season.
The Hornet baseball team won the season series, winning three of four against UC Davis. Baseball’s one loss excluded, the only spring sports to fall to the Aggies were softball and women’s golf.
Men’s and women’s tennis handled the Aggies quickly. The men took the match 6-1; the women 6-0. Track and field dealt with the Aggies at UC Davis and the women won by a seven-point margin, with the men by a 15-point margin.
Gymnastics had a home meet against the Aggies, and pulled off a .901 point victory.
In the end it was UC Davis that edged out Sac State by 6.25 points. This is the third lowest margin of victory in the Cup’s history.
“Our first goal is always to win our conference, but equally important is the goal of beating Davis in all of the events we compete against them,” said Sac State Athletics Director Terry Wanless. “It’s healthy, it’s positive; it’s not a hate mentality. It’s a competitive mentality. I think that as our sports programs continue to grow you will see the student and the campus engagement take on a new level.”
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Sacramento State Track and Field hopes that the outdoor season will bring the opportunity for greater marks and performances.
As the season shifted from indoor to outdoor, the track and field team found the move to be painless.
“The transition from the indoor to outdoor season was easy,” said head coach Kathleen Raske. “Because the indoor season was short and we train outdoors all year long.”
The outdoor season has some of the same events, along with a few added events that are not in the indoor season. Some of the events are the 4×100 meter relay, 100 meter relay, 100/110 meter hurdles, 3,000 meter Steeplechase, 1,500 meter relay, 10,000 meter relay, 400 meter relay, the javelin, the discus, and the hammer throw, said assistant coach Scott Abbott.
Raske said the team has two goals this season.
“Our first goal for the outdoor season is to repeat as Big Sky champions on the women’s side to make it a four-peat because no one in the history of the Big Sky Conference has ever done that,” Raske said. “On the men’s side, we have never won an outdoor title so we are vying after that. We are hoping for a double-team title for the Big Sky Conference championship here at home.”
The second goal has to do with the NCAA championships.
“Our second goal is to advance as many athletes as we can onto as many NCAA championships as possible,” Raske said. “Beyond that, we want to advance as many on to the finals, produce All-Americans, and score points at the National level. These goals have been set for quite some time so they know exactly what they are going after.”
Abbott agrees with Raske that these two goals are the main focus of the team.
“We definitely hope and expect to win conference titles on both the men’s and women’s side, especially considering that we are hosting the outdoor conference championships,” Abbott said. “We have won three indoor titles on the men’s side in the last five years, but we have yet to win an outdoor title for the men, so that is definitely a focus for us. Our women have been the dominant program in the conference for both indoor and outdoor for the past three years, and we expect that to continue this season.”
By accomplishing these goals, the team hopes to have a successful season. Abbott said with this year’s team they will be able to accomplish their goals.
“We are trying to solidify ourselves as the powerhouse program in the Big Sky Conference,” Abbott said. “And to continue to gain notoriety and respect on the Regional and National level. This can be a banner year for Sacramento State Track and Field, as we are fielding probably our strongest team in our program’s history, so we want to take full advantage of the opportunities that are available.”
Raske said the team has not changed its strategy or training for the outdoor season.
The athletes who are going to push the team are All-American 800-meter runner Lea Wallace, all-American long jumper Ronald Brookins and conference leader Emilio Hernandez. Raske said Brookins and Hernandez are valuable to the men’s team because Brookins is the best hurdler in the conference and is a Big Sky champion in the 100-meter relay, and Hernandez leads the conference in all three jumps (the triple jump, the long jump and the high jump). Abbott said they have more athletes than ever primed to compete at the national level.
“Usually the spring semester is a little more stressful between the business of the academic year ending and people trying to make plans for the summer,” Raske said. “There is a lot going on, at the same time we’re trying to keep (the athletes) focused as well as get them to take care of their business and all the externals so that they can just focus when it comes time for championship season.”
Because the season is longer, the team feels they can use that to their advantage for more progression, Abbott said. The athletes see it as a chance to be more competitive and score more points at the Conference Championships.
“The outdoor season is much longer and it typically produces greater marks and performances because your training has progressed over the course of the year,” Abbott said. “The outdoor season has more events and more of the team is involved. The indoor season was a nice warmup, but the outdoor season is the real deal.”
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