'Cats in top 5 after Day 1

May 17, 2008

TEMPE- The UA men's and women's track and field teams kicked off the Pacific-10 Conference Championships at Joe Selleh Track in Tempe, Ariz. on Friday. The men's team currently sits in fourth place with 30 points after six events while the women scored 17 points and are in fifth after day one.

The highlight of the first day was easily junior thrower Zack Lloyd, who easily toppled his personal best with a throw of 21.03m (69' 0') to become the first 2008 Pacific-10 Conference Champion of the year for Arizona. The mark was also the biggest throw in the nation this season and ranks Lloyd number one all-time on the UA shot put list. Teammate Jarred Sola took fourth place with a season's best mark of 18.75m (61' 6 ¼') and he combined with Lloyd to earn the men's team 15 points.

The Wildcat women throwers were also able to tally some points towards their team score thanks to Megan Howard and Nicole Lloyd, who combined for 12 points.

After two fouls in the hammer and facing elimination, Howard was able to come up with four consequent throws of over 56 meters. Howard scored a personal best mark of 59.33m (194' 8') on her final throw to overtake the fifth position where she would remain. Later in the day she would finish with a best toss of 15.73m (51' 7 ¼') in the shot put to earn five more points and bring her total to nine on the day.

Lloyd was also able to score three points with her sixth place finish in the shot put at 15.14m (49' 8 ¼').

On the men's side the depth of the long jump and shot put teams proved to be huge as they earned a total of 29 points for the UA team Friday evening.

The long jumpers kicked it off by taking the third, fourth and sixth positions and earning 14 points toward the team's total. Luis Rivera took third with a best jump and regional qualifying mark of 7.48m (24' 6 ½'). He was followed by teammate Daniel Marshall who came in with a mark of 7.43m (24' 4 ½') and Jordan Powell rounded out the top six with a distance of 7.34m (24' 1').

Many of the running events on Friday were not scored but were still important preliminary heats to qualify for tomorrow's finals and many athletes stepped up to the challenge.

In the women's 1500-meter run, two UA athletes qualified for the finals tomorrow evening. MacKenzie Edwards finished with the fifth fastest time of the 23 competitors at 4:28.18 and came in just shy of the NCAA Regional qualifying mark of 4:27:80. Her teammate, junior Shelly Splittberger just made it into tomorrow's final with the 12th and final qualifying time of 4:30.01

The ladies were followed up by Dylan Fitzpatrick on the men's side, who used a late kick down the homestretch to grab a fifth place finish in his heat and qualify 9th overall for tomorrow's final with a time of 3:48.21. The mark was also just shy of the regional qualifying mark of 3:47.80.

The team continued their consistency in the qualifying events as LaTisha Holden and Shevell Quinley both qualified in the 100-meter hurdles. Holden's time of 14.01 was good for the seventh qualifying spot and Quinley came in right behind with a mark of 14.02 for the eighth of nine spots in tomorrow's final.

Quinley, who finished in sixth place in the Pac-10 Combined Event Championships last weekend, returned later in the evening to place seventh in the women's long jump and earn two points, bringing her individual total of points earned for the women to five.

The team rolled along into both the men's and women's 400-meter dash where Bobby McCoy qualified for the men while Ashley Gadson and Deanna Sullivan made it into the finals for the women.

Sullivan kicked off the action with a second place finish in her heat, just falling of first place down the backstretch while finishing in 54.75. Gadson took third in the following heat in a regional qualifying time of 54.47.

On the men's side, McCoy finished third in his heat in a time of 46.90 and qualified No. 8 out of the nine seeds in tomorrow's final. The final will likely be one of the most memorable in the conference's history with six of the top twenty-five 400m runners in the country competing in tommorow's final.

McCoy would come back later in the evening to also qualify for tomorrow's 200-meter finals as he claimed the second fastest time in 21.10.

In the men's 100-meter dash, senior Marcus Tyus' Pac-10 career in the event will last one more day as he was the lone Wildcat to qualify for the event with a time of 10.66 and the eighth best mark heading in the final in the event.

The team continued their trend of just squeezing athletes in in the women's 800-meter run where sophomore Christina Rodgers became the fourth athlete in a row to qualify eighth of the nine heading to the finals tomorrow with a outdoor personal record and regional qualifying time of 2:08.28.

And as if there was not enough cutting it close, Chris Titsworth added yet another eighth place qualifying mark for tomorrow's final in the men's 400-meter hurdles with a personal best and regional qualifying mark of 52.29.

Maggie Callahan also set a huge personal record in the women's 3000-meter steeplechase with a 10th place finish in a regional qualifying time of 10:46.87, over 15 seconds quicker than her previous best mark.

The team will be back in action tomorrow beginning with the men's hammer throw in the morning and picking back up with the conclusion of the meet at 5 p.m. as both Wildcat teams will look to continue their first day success and carry it forward to an all-around conference title.

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