2004 Track and Field Season Review

July 12, 2004

The University of Arizona's men's and women's track and field teams enjoyed a tremendous amount of success during the 2004 campaign. Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Fred Harvey saw his Wildcats take several huge steps towards success in his second year at the reigns. Arizona had a number of student-athletes score big performances throughout the season that led to national recognition for the program and the individual athletes.

The 2004 track and field season ended with an impressive team performance by the Wildcat men at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The men placed 12th in the overall team standings, which is their highest finish since a sixth-place effort in 2000. The Arizona women did not fare as well as they had expected, finishing tied for 65th place.

Distance runners Robert Cheseret and Kyle Goklish paced the Wildcat men at the NCAA Championships. Cheseret was the star of the meet, scoring 18 of the Wildcats' 21 points. Cheseret was runner-up to Arkansas' Alistair Cragg in the 10,000 meters and claimed his first national title in the 5,000 meters. Goklish also scored in the 5,000 with a sixth-place finish to contribute the other three points. Cheseret earned All-America accolades in both events, while Goklish was honored for his performance in the 5,000.

On the women's side, Arizona found points hard to come by. Senior Connie Jerz was the only one to find her way to the podium as she claimed seventh place in the pole vault, earning All-America honors in the process.

The Wildcats also fared well at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The women finished 32nd with 5.5 points, while the men came home tied for 34th with 5 points. Jerz finished tied for third in the pole vault, scoring all of the women's points and earning All-America honors. Cheseret scored for the Wildcat men, finishing fourth in the 3,000-meter final, which earned him All-America honors. Junior Sharifa Jones also had two big performances as she came home as an All-American in the long jump and 60-meter hurdles. Jones' time of 8.18 seconds in the hurdles was an Arizona school record, a feat she accomplished three times during the indoor season. Goklish also came home as an All-American as a 12th-place finisher in the 5,000 meters.

It has come to be a regular occurrence at the end of every season to look at the accumulation of new school records and all-time top-ten performances. The 2004 season was no different as the Wildcats continued to rewrite the record books. The Wildcats set four new school records between in the indoor and outdoor season and racked up 28 top-ten performances.

Wildcat sprinter/hurdler/jumper Sharifa Jones was responsible for two school records. During the indoor season, she set the 60-meter hurdles record three separate times. The final time was at the NCAA Indoor Championships, where she clocked a time of 8.18 seconds. She was at it again during the outdoor season. At the Mt. SAC Relays, Jones ran an impressive time of 13.13 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, but a wind reading greater than 2.0 meters per second would not allow the time to be used for record purposes. One month later during the Pac-10 Championships, Jones set the record with a blistering fast time of 13.10 seconds.

The other two school records were set on the men's side, both in distance races. During the indoor season, the men's distance medley relay team broke the school record for the second consecutive year. The new record stands at 9:34.27. Sophomore Robert Cheseret, senior Tim Ramirez, senior Jevon Mason and junior Jin Daikoku completed the feat at the Washington Last Chance meet in a bid to earn an NCAA automatic qualifying mark. The team finished ninth at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Cheseret was responsible for the final school record, also accomplished at the Mt. SAC Relays. He eclipsed the 15-year old school record in the 5,000 meters, previously held by Arizona distance great Marc Davis. He crossed the line at 13:22.65 to break the record by ten seconds. Marc Davis held the previous record, which he also set during his sophomore season at the Mt. SAC Relays. Cheseret set the Wildcat freshman record in the 5,000 meters during the 2003 season.

The Wildcats' impressive season was littered with big performances in every event. The 2004 season saw the all-time top-ten list add 28 new times and marks for the record books. Both the men's and women's squads earned 14 apiece.

Starting with the women's sprints, sophomore Marquita Taylor was already ranked No. 10 in the 100 meters. She improved that time to 11.79 seconds at the Jim Click Shootout. In her first two seasons at Arizona, Taylor has shown a lot of potential and is on the verge of having a breakout season for the Wildcats. She also added herself at No. 8 in the 200 meters with a time of 24.13 seconds. Fellow sophomore Angel Perkins held the No. 5 spot in the 200 meters. She remained at No. 5, but with an improved time of 23.77 seconds.

In the 100-meter hurdles, Jones now holds the top spot with her school record time of 13.10 seconds. First-year Wildcat Tiffany McDonald did not waste any time in etching her name into the Arizona record books. McDonald's time of 13.77 seconds in the high hurdles ranks No. 10 at Arizona.

The women's 4x100-meter relay team was on the verge of breaking a school record of their own. The quartet of McDonald, Perkins, Taylor and Jones clocked a time of 44.75 seconds at the double-dual meet with Arizona State and Northern Arizona. The time ranks second to the school record of 44.74 seconds, which was set at the same meet in 2000.

On the field, the UA women had a number of strong performances. In the pole vault, four women added their names to or improved their standings on the list. Senior Sheena McKay now ranks No. 5 with a personal best vault of 12 feet, 4 � inches (3.77m). Freshman April Kubishta added her name in her first season. Kubishta's vault of 11 feet, 11 � inches (3.65m) ranks No. 8 in Arizona history. Senior Kate Yee and freshman Becky Gausepohl will hold the No. 10 spot together with a clearance of 11 feet, 2 � inches (3.41m).

Sharifa Jones' assault on the record books was not limited to the hurdles. She is also a standout long jumper for the Wildcats. At the NCAA West Regional, Jones claimed the title with a leap of 20 feet, 5 inches (6.22m). It ranks second in school history.

Sophomore Rachel Varner had a breakout season in 2004. She finished the season ranked fourth in the nation in the discus. She now ranks third in Arizona history with her throw of 190 feet, 1 inch (57.93m). In the hammer throw, senior Jackilyn Drake got off a big throw at the Pac-10 Championships to move her up the top-ten list. Her mark of 181 feet, 5 inches stands at No. 4 in Arizona history.

The Arizona men saw an equal amount of success with a large number of top-ten performances. In the sprints, senior Jevon Mason improved to fourth in school history with a time of 45.82 seconds in the 400 meters. That performance helped him claim fourth at the Pac-10 Championships.

Cheseret added his name to the top-ten lists in four different events. He now holds the top spot in the 5,000 meters with his school record at the Mt. SAC Relays. In the 1,500 meters, Cheseret is ninth with a time of 3:43.50. He holds the No. 6 spot in the mile run at 4:01.43. Then, in the 10,000 meters, his time of 28:25.62 ranks fourth in school history. Joining Cheseret on the 10K list is senior Kyle Goklish. Goklish now holds the No. 7 spot with his time of 28:59.49.

Several of the men's vaulters climbed their way up the top-ten list in 2004. During the indoor season, junior Chris Chappell cleared 17 feet, 9 � inches (5.43m), which is the second best indoor vault at Arizona. Senior Kevin Opalka already held the No. 5 spot, but he improved that mark with a 2004 best of 17 feet, 6 � inches (5.35m). At No. 6, Chappell improved his mark to 17 feet, 3 � inches (5.27m).

The Wildcat jumpers made a lot of progress over the course of the 2004 season under jumps coach Eric Boxley. Senior J.R. Harrison moved his way up the list to the No. 4 spot. Harrison consistently cleared the 50-foot barrier throughout the entire season. His best of 52 feet, 1 � inches (15.89m) now stands as one of the best in school history. Freshman Daniel Marshall enjoyed a very strong rookie season. Marshall's leap of 50 feet, 11 inches (15.52m) stands at No. 7 on the all-time list.

The Wildcats saw additions and improvements to the all-time lists in each of the four throwing events. In the shot put, freshman Adam Kuehl made the list at No. 10 with a throw of 57 feet, 8 � inches (17.58m). Kuehl also added himself to the top ten in the discus, coming in at No. 8 with a mark of 186 feet (56.69m). Senior Ryan Moore tied the No. 10 throw in the hammer, which stands at 190 feet, 10 inches (58.16m). Senior Matt Wagner, 2004 Pac-10 javelin champion, moved to No. 3 on the all-time list with a throw of 240 feet, 10 inches (73.40m).

The University of Arizona track and field programs enjoyed one of its most successful years to date. Head coach Fred Harvey and his coaching staff look forward to the accomplishments the 2005 season will bring to the Wildcats.

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