Rains can't slow down Cats on Day 1

June 12, 2008

June 12, 2008 - The first day of the 2008 NCAA Championships did not have quite the weather that most of th athletes would desire as their ideal conditions to win a national championships. But they are without the power of any modern day Prospero and thus as they say: 'the show must go on.'

The Arizona Wildcats had several athletes in competition in the first day of preliminary rounds in Des Moines, Iowa, and a couple of those athletes were able to put together strong performances to go on to compete another day.

The meet was postponed just over two hours as a heavy thunderstorm blew over the city, causing many safety issues that would not have made it beneficial for the athletes to compete.

Events kicked off again around 1 p.m. CST and the UA saw its first notable finish about four hours later thanks to sophomore Christina Rodgers in the first round of the 800-meter run.

Needing a third place finish in her heat to guarantee a position in tommorow's semifinal, Rodgers became boxed in coming down the homestretch. Running in fourth with about 100 meters to go and feeling good enough to make a strong kick coming to the line, Rodgers made a quick move to outside to try to get around the two competitors in front of her. She caused more than a couple hearts to flutter as she stumbled over the legs of a competitor next to her but quick regrouped over the next 75 meters and nosed into the third place finish. Five hundredths of a second seperated Rodgers from moving on or ending her season with a fourth place finish.

Senior phenom Bobby McCoy left a little less worry in the hearts of his unlookers in the men's 400-meter dash. After complaining about 'tired' legs at the NCAA West Regional two weeks ago, McCoy looked just fine in the first round of the event, and used a strong run down the backstretch to take second place in his heat. His time of 46.50 was good for an automatic advancement into Friday's semifinal.

Just as more rain clouds looked to be rolling in over the stadium near the end of the first day of competition, the UA saw two more athletes move that much closer to All-American acolades.

The sophomore dynamic duo of women's high jumpers, Liz Patter and Jasmin Day, entered the competion ranked second and third in the country. Having to only be part of the top 16 after the preliminary round of the high jump, both athletes advanced but not with out a little bit of drama.

Day was one of only three athletes to clear all her jumps on her first attempts at each height, easy clearing 1.70m, 1.74m and 1.77m.

Patterson, the Pac-10 Champion in the event, caused a nailbiting moment after missing her first two jumps at 1.77m. Having one shot to clear the bar or be done for the week, Patterson was able to make the best of her third attempt and will advance to Friday's final.More thunderstorms are expected to hit overnight and run into tommorow but no UA athletes competes on the second day until 4:15 p.m. so a delay for them should unlikely.

Seeing action tommorow will be the shot put trio of the UA that has filled up many a stat sheet over the season as they take place in the preliminary round of the event. Zack Lloyd is currently ranked as the top shot putter collegially this outdoor season with his Pac-10 Championship winning mark of 21.03 (69'). He will join previous All-Americans Shawn Best and Jarred Sola as they attempt to become one of few teams that earn three All-Americans in one event in the same year.

Rodgers will look to move on to the finals of the 800m tommorow and do so with a little less drama than her race today.

Nicole Lloyd will also compete in the women's shot put preliminary round.

One of the final events of the day will feature the suprising men's 4 x 400-meter relay squad. The team that is made up of a group that thought they were done for the summer after the West Regionals, and two athletes thought their collegiate career was over. Seniors and Southern Arizona high school alumni Robert Chozet and Jeremie Brower will hope to lead the feel-good story to a magical run tomorrow to keep their season going just a little longer by qualifying for a final. The feat would likely go down as one of the clear Cinderella stories of the year as the team enters competition as the slowest seed and feel that each of them will have to shave a second off their personal bests to have a chance. But stranger things have happened and no one ever knows what special things can happen at a national championship meet.

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