National Championships on Line in Texas
March 12, 2009
This weekend will mark the end of an illustrious career for one athlete and the end of the indoor careers of five others on the UA track and field teams as the squad heads to College Station, Texas to compete in the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships Friday and Saturday at the McFerrin Athletic Center.
Four years--and in the case of several athletes, five--will come down to this last weekend as 9 members from the Arizona team will compete for the epitome of collegiate glory: a National Championship.
For Bobby McCoy, the weekend will mark the last time he steps on the track in an Arizona uniform as he returns home to wrap up his career. The senior from Houston--located about two hours south of College Station--is Arizona's all-time record holder in the 400-meters. He came to the university with plans to share responsibilities with the football team but made the transition to a full-time track athlete last season.
McCoy has use up all four years of his outdoor eligibility, but because spring football training took him away from one season of indoors, he is back for one last go at a national title. McCoy finished fourth in the event last year, earning All-American honors and will look to take that performance to the next level this weekend.
For fellow seniors Shevell Quinley, Megan Howard, Nick Mossberg , and Zack and Nicole Lloyd, this weekend will be the last meet of the indoor careers and mark the halfway point of their final season as Wildcats.
Quinley (pentathlon), Howard (shot put) and Zack Lloyd (shot put) have already earned All-American honors at some point during their careers and will look for one more this weekend. For Mossberg (pole vault) and Nicole Lloyd (shot put), this will be their first opportunity to earn the accolades indoors.
Years of training and preparation will all come to a climax this weekend as both teams search for their first team national championship ever and hope to bed led by their seniors to the promised land in the Lone Star State this weekend. Events kick of Friday at 10 a.m. with Quinley in the pentathlon while the others will start seeing action around 4 p.m.
Not to Be Forgotten
The UA seniors aren't the only athletes looking to earn national championships this weekend. Three juniors round out the roster of UA athletes in Texas this week led by Liz Patterson, the national leader in the high jump entering competition.
Patterson is the reigning outdoor national champion in the event and has yet to lose a meet this season. She will look to stretch her national championship streak to two as she aims to keep her high jump win streak going as well.
Patterson is joined in the high jump by fellow All-American Jasmin Day. Day earned the accolade during both the indoor and outdoor seasons last season and is another one looking to keep a streak alive.
Gabriella Duclos has returned from a redshirt year to stunning success this season. During the course of the year, Duclos has climbed to fourth all-time at Arizona in the pole vault, set an all-time personal record and win the 2009 conference title in the event while having a top-10 mark in the country.
All three will look to boost up the women's teams hopes of a strong finish and prove naysayers wrong after the squad dropped completely out of the rankings two weeks ago.
No Lloyd-erring Around
Senior Zack Lloyd's name has been in the running as one of the top collegiate throwers in the country since he set foot at the UA and last Saturday he wasted no time in showing why.
Lloyd smashed the school's indoor record at the Lobo Invitational earlier this season with his mark of 20.77m (68-1 1/4). The mark has also stood as the collegiate best for the remainder of the season, giving Lloyd claim to the top spot from his very first meet until now.
Lloyd, a two-time All-American, will clearly be one of the favorites this weekend but will have stiff competition from rival Arizona State's Ryan Whiting. Whiting won the meet last season in NCAA collegiate record fashion and will be looking for the repeat this year.
Gabriella Duclos sat out what should have been her junior year last season due to a foot injury. Coming into the year, Duclos was the reigning Pac-10 Champion and a NCAA competitor and would have been a pivotal part of the UA's championship run.
Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be, but Duclos wasted no time getting back into the swing of things this year, setting an all-time personal best jump at 4.22m in just her first meet of the season to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. Duclos continued to dominate throughout the season leading up to her conference title in Seattle two weekends ago.
UA head coach Fred Harvey said earlier this year that Duclos was not going to wait around this season and she has proved him right every step of the way. Duclos will look took to continue raising the bar in College Station this weekend.
Making the Most of a Last Chance
Howard had her best throw of the season at just the right time, winning the event with a mark of 16.08m (52-9 1/4) to move her into 14th place on the national descending order list. The top 16 athletes from each event advance to the Indoor Championshipsin College Station, Texas.
Day eliminated any notion of not qualifying by clearing 1.82m (5-11 1/2) to win the event and to put her in a tie for seventh in the country. Day did make things interesting, however, after missing her first two of three attempts at 1.79 (5-10 1/2) and needing to make the last chance just to give her a shot at improving upon her previous season best. She made the third jump at that height but then went on to miss the first two at 1.82m. Her final jump at the height proved to be the golden one and surely helped her and her coaches breathea sigh of relief.