Track & Field Has Big Day at Outdoor Opener and Indoor Last Chance Meets

March 6, 2004

TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona's men's and women's track and field teams opened the 2004 outdoor season with several very impressive performances on Saturday at the first annual Wildcat Classic. The Wildcats played host to squads from Louisville, Central Arizona and several track clubs at Roy P. Drachman Stadium. Altogether, Arizona athletes combined for nine Pac-10 and nine NCAA Regional qualifying performances.

'This was a perfect way to open the outdoor season,' commented head coach Fred Harvey. 'We had some big marks and fast times today. Rachel (Varner) had a huge performance in the discus. That is the perfect example of how we want to start the outdoor season. This set us up very well for the Willie Williams Classic in two weeks.'

Sophomore Rachel Varner had a big day for the Wildcat women. She finished second in the discus throw with a NCAA Regional and Pac-10 qualifying mark of 176 feet, 4 inches (53.75m). It is the fifth-best mark in Arizona history and a big personal record for Varner.

Rachel's sister, Amber, also had a big day in the throwing events. Amber won the shot put and the hammer throw, both with Pac-10 and NCAA Regional qualifying marks. She claimed the shot put title with a throw of 47 feet, 3 � inches (14.42m). In the hammer, Varner came up with a toss of 175 feet, 8 inches (53.54m) for the win. She also earned a qualifying mark in the discus with a throw of 156 feet, 10 inches.

In the women's sprints, sophomore Marquita Taylor continued her successful season with a second place finish in the 200 meters. Taylor clocked a time of 24.36 seconds to punch her ticket to the Pac-10 Championships in May. Freshman Tiffany McDonald was the top finisher for Arizona in the 100 meters, placing second in 12.17 seconds. Freshmen Bella Lau and Tyeshia Harvey finished second and third, respectively, in the 400 meters.

Sophomore Amber Steen was the first Wildcat to cross the line in the 800 meters, followed closely by newcomer Fanice Chepkorir. In the 1,500 meters, sophomore Michi Hirakawa-Wong crossed the line at 4:48.30 to finish second.

In the two hurdles events, junior Chelsea Powell dominated by winning both individual titles. Powell sped to the finish in 14.66 seconds in the 100-meter high hurdles, closely followed by teammate Lindsay Scarborough, who finished in 14.67 seconds. Powell also earned herself a trip to the Pac-10 Championships with a time of 1:01.55 in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles.

The Wildcat women claimed both relay titles. The 4x100 meter relay squad won in 46.80 seconds, while the 4x400 meter relay team claimed the win in 3:55.03.

Senior Juanita Braun won the pole vault at 12 feet, 1-� inches (3.70m). Freshman Lexie Viggiano was the winner in the long jump competition.

The Arizona men had a very successful opening to the outdoor season, as well. The Wildcats dominated in the field events. Senior Matt Wagner won the javelin with a throw of 222 feet, 8 inches (67.86m). The mark easily earned him qualifying marks for both the Pac-10 and NCAA Regional Championships.

Freshman Adam Kuehl earned two qualifying marks in his first collegiate outdoor meet. He claimed the win in the shot put with a throw of 54 feet, 11 � inches (16.74m), while placing second in the discus with a toss of 174 feet, 8 inches (53.23m). Freshman Jarred Sola also earned a NCAA Regional qualifier in his first collegiate outdoor meet. Sola finished second in the shot put with a throw of 54 feet, 5 � inches (16.60m).

Senior Kevin Opalka finished second in the men's pole vault with a best height of 16 feet, 8 � inches (5.10m). The mark earned Opalka a trip to the Pac-10 and NCAA Regional Championships. Senior Mike Mensah won the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 4 � inches (6.81m).

On the track, the Wildcats looked good in their first outdoor meet. Sophomore Avery Sneed sped to a second-place finish in the 100 meters with a time of 11.13 seconds. Sneed was also the top finisher in the 200 meters, finishing fifth in 22.55 seconds.

Senior Adrain Thomas finished third in the 400 meters with a time of 48.21 seconds, while sophomore Daniel Olea crossed the line in 49.54 seconds to finish sixth. The men's 4x400 meter relay squad finished second in 3:14.68.

Freshman Kenny Frank placed third in the 1,500 meters with a fast time of 3:57.67. Junior Josh Ludwig wasn't too far behind, finishing fifth in 3:58.72. Senior Matt McInvale finished second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

In other track and field action, the Wildcats had eight athletes in Seattle, Wash. for the Washington Last Chance meet. Arizona succeeded in earning three qualifying performances in the five events entered.

Senior Connie Jerz stepped up her game to win the women's pole vault with a big improvement on her season's performances. Jerz vaulted to a height of 13 feet, 9 � inches (4.20m) to earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Also earning an automatic berth to the Fayetteville, Ark. is the men's distance medley relay team. The squad set a school record with a time of 9:34.27, eclipsing the old record by over seven seconds. Sophomore Robert Cheseret led off in the 1,200-meter leg. Junior Tim Ramirez took the baton to run 800 meters, who handed the baton off to senior Jevon Mason for the 400-meter portion. Junior Jin Daikoku closed it out in the 1,600-meter leg to seal the win with the seventh-best collegiate time this season.

Senior Kyle Goklish ran an exceptional race in the 5,000 meters. Goklish finished fourth to finish in 13:55.75, earning him a provisional qualifying time for the indoor championships. The time puts him in the top-ten for the 2004 season, giving him a very good chance of earning a trip to Arkansas.

Sophomore Angel Perkins was just short of earning herself a trip to Arkansas. Perkins won the 60 meters in 7.52 seconds. Junior Mark Ramos was not able to earn a qualifying mark in the long jump. Ramos finished the competition with a best jump of 22 feet, 11 � inches (7.00m).

The Wildcats qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships will travel to Fayetteville, Ark. to vie for a national title from March 12-13. The rest of the Arizona squads will gear up for the Willie Williams Classic in two weeks at Roy P. Drachman Stadium.

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