Track & Field Shines in First Day of NCAA West Regional

May 31, 2003

PALO ALTO, Calif. - The University of Arizona's men's and women's track and field teams look strong after the first day of the first-ever NCAA West Regional at Stanford on Friday. The Wildcats earned several automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Championships, which are to be held in Sacramento next month. The top five athletes in each event earn automatic berths to the NCAA Championships. At the end of the first day of competition, the UA men are in fourth place with 14 points, while the Wildcat women stand in sixth with 10 points.

Rich Legarra got the day started for the Wildcats in the men's hammer. On his last throw of the competition, he earned a mark of 195 feet, 11 inches (59.71m) to move into fifth place and earn a berth to the NCAA Championships.

Amy Linnen got her season back on track with a fifth place finish in the pole vault. She cleared 13-6 � (4.12m) to earn the automatic bid to Sacramento. Juanita Braun also had a big day in the pole vault. The junior cleared two personal bests during the course of the six-hour pole vault competition. She finished with a best height of 12-10 � (3.92m), falling just short of earning a trip to the national championships.

The women's 4x100 meter relay team earned a spot in Saturday's final after winning the second heat of the preliminaries in 44.94 seconds. The squad was made up of Sharifa Jones, Angel Perkins, Marquita Taylor and Seyanbou Ndiaye.

Beth Hoge had a big day for the UA women. In the 1,500 meters, Hoge finished fifth in her heat in 4:29.14. She qualified for the final with the ninth-fastest time. In the 5,000 meters, Hoge used a strong kick in the final 300 meters to claim a fifth place finish, earning her a spot in the NCAA Championships.

Sharifa Jones claimed a spot in the NCAA long jump field next month with a third place finish on Friday. She finished with a best leap of 20 feet, 2 � inches (6.16m). In the 100 meter hurdles, she just missed qualifying for the final by a few thousandths of a second. She was ninth overall in 13.59 seconds.

Jeff Hunter qualified eighth in both the 110 meter high hurdles and 400 meter intermediate hurdles. He faced a strong headwind in the high hurdles to finish in 14.09 seconds. In the intermediate hurdles, Hunter crossed the line in 52.20 seconds.

Amber Varner had a strong day in the shot put, finishing ninth with a throw of 48-8 � (14.85m). Mark Ramos also placed ninth in the men's long jump with a best leap of 23-4 � (7.13m). In the men's discus, Sean Shields added to the men's point total with a second place finish. He finished with a best throw of 188-6 (57.47m) to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Angel Perkins qualified for the 400 meters final after winning her heat in 53.95 seconds. Seynabou Ndiaye was the third-fastest qualifier in the 100 meters with a time of 11.60 seconds.

Robert Cheseret closed out the day for the Wildcats in the men's 5,000 meters. He finished seventh overall in 14:01.09. Though he didn't earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships, Cheseret should earn a wild card berth based on previous times.

The Wildcats will look to add more athletes to its list of NCAA qualifiers on Saturday. Action is set to begin at 10 a.m. PT with the women's hammer.

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