Wildcats prepare for Regionals

May 29, 2008

The only thing that can slow down the UA track and field team at this point in the season would be getting lost in Los Angeles as they tried to find the track they are supposed to compete at for the NCAA West Regional Championships this weekend.

The team managed to do that today, but luckily they were only late to a light practice session.

The UA baseball and softball teams aren’t the only Wildcat athletics programs in the heart of their postseason right now as 27 UA track and field athletes will take to the Matador Track Complex this weekend in hopes of earning a coveted spot in the NCAA Championships in June.

Despite having trouble locating the venue on their first day in the big city, the Wildcats were relaxed in their warm-ups and head coach Fred Harvey explained that’s why he brought the team to town a couple days early in order to avoid “frazzling the athletes” as they worry about travel concerns.

The NCAA Regional weekend is sort of the Final Four of the collegiate track and field universe. Throughout the outdoor season, athletes have competed to earn the opportunity to participate this weekend and will have to lay it all on the line in order to earn one of the few reserved spots to the national meet.

All athletes that had achieved qualifying marks and standards throughout the concourse of the outdoor season will now face of against each other in one final bout where only the very top finishers will earn that opportunity.

The UA will compete against athletes from a variety of colleges from the western United States, which includes the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Utah.

The competition will be at its finest and that’s why no athlete can afford to hold back as even the top qualifiers this weekend must still place accordingly in order to maintain their place on the entry list for Des Moines next month and a chance to earn the coveted All-American status.

The UA is sending its best athletes into the field, however, and looks primed to put together a stellar performance on their way to national accreditation.

400-Meter Mania

Eight athletes will compete in some variety of a 400-meter run at this weekends regionals and never has one lap around the track been so pivotal.

The highlight of the weekend, like the Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago, will be the men’s 400-meter run. UA’s Bobby McCoy ran the fastest time of his life in the event at 45.31. However, the only three athletes in the country ranked ahead of McCoy also run in the West Regional.

USC’s Lionel Larry took the conference title in a blistering speed of 44.77 to claim the fastest time in the nation away from the previous holder, Jordan Boase of Washington.

UA head coach Fred Harvey firmly believes that McCoy can run a sub-45 second lap and those who witnessed his incredible anchor leg showdown at the UA-ASU-NAU Double Dual meet can attest for that.

And if McCoy is going to make a splash at nationals, a sub-45 time may be what it takes to win the whole thing.

The men’s 4 x 400-meter relay team will also look to bounce back after the Pac-10 Championships after seeing McCoy sit the race out with a minor hip injury.

The team of McCoy, Chris Titsworth, Jeremie Brower and Robert Chozet had the second fastest time in the region heading into the meet before the Pac-10 Championships and will need to finish in the top three in the final event of the weekend Saturday in order to earn a spot at nationals.

Titsworth will also compete in the 400-meter hurdles after earning a qualifications at Pac-10s.

On the women’s side, Ashley Gadson and Deanna Sullivan will look to repeat their All-Conference 400m performance of two weeks ago in the in which the ladies finished fourth and eighth, respectively.

The lady’s 4 x 400-meter relay team of Sullivan, Gadson, Christina Rodgers and Echos Blevins will also compete after earning the women’s first regional qualification in the event in several years.

Clearing the Bar

Liz Patterson will look to defend her Pac-10 Title in the women's high jump this weekend. A year removed from a heartbreaking tiebreaking mp-off loss that would have sent Patterson to the National Championships, she is back in her groove and unlikely to find herself in that position again after breaking her own personal record at the Pac-10 Championships to win the event and the conference crown.

Teammate Jasmin Day currently ranks third in the region, just behind Patterson and both will be up against the top jumper in the country—and also Day’s sister—Sharon Day of Cal-Poly SLO.

Into the Jumping Pit

The men’s dynamic trio of long jumpers that includes Luis Rivera-Morales, Daniel Marshall and Jordan Powell have consistently been top five finishers in both the long and triple jumps this outdoor season and will look to continue that trend on Saturday and Sunday.

Marshall is the defending regional champion in the triple jump, Powell has seen All-American glory in the long jump and Rivera-Morales has won dual national championships in both events on the junior college circuit. Between the three, the chances of making big things happen is quite high.

Throes and Throws

Throughout the season, junior college transfers and married couple Zack and Nicole Lloyd have helped to highlight an incredibly strong UA throwing squad and both will hope to lead the way this weekend.

Zack is currently the No. 1 collegiate shot put thrower in the country after his conference title winning throw of 21.03m (69’ ) at the Pac-10 meet. After a rigorous week of training, Lloyd will lead fellow shot putters and national top-10 competitors Shawn Best and Jarred Sola as what could potentially be three of the top five regional throwers on the weekend. Lloyd and Best will also compete in the discus throw.

On the women’s side, Megan Howard and Nicole represent the duo that has throw strongly and consistently earned the team points throughout the season and they hope to cap that off by both earning a spot at the national meet.

Not to be Forgotten

Many other athletes from the UA will compete this weekend as well. These include Maggie Callahan in the 3000-meter steeplechase, Christina Rodgers in the 800-meter run, Brendan Corrigan and Jackie Perryman in the pole vault, Shevell Quinley in the hurdles and long jump, Leigh Bernstein in the javelin throw, Marcus Tyus in the 100-meter dash, Xuehan Xiong and Kyle Alston in the 200-meter dash, and Irine Lagat in the 5000-meter run.