'Cats in Tempe for Double Duel
May 1, 2009
The Wildcats will head up north this weekend to do battle with in-state rivals Arizona State and Northern Arizona at the annual UA-ASU-NAU Double Dual Meet at Joe Sellah Track in Tempe, Ariz.
The annual meet pits the top performers from each school against each other for a shot at home-state bragging rights, but more importantly it provides a competitive environment for the athletes to improve upon or earn extra NCAA West Regional Qualifications.
The meet will also be a precursor to the Pac-10 Conference Championships which will begin next weekend in Eugene, Ore.
Every year, UA head coach Fred Harvey prepares for this weekend by sporting an Arizona State shirt to get his athletes riled up and ready to compete. Harvey wears the shirt around the office and at practice, a tradition he started up several years ago to help motivate his team.
A day prior to the meet, members of the UA team will be given the opportunity to rip the shirt off of Harvey and each will carry a little piece of it on their body as they compete Saturday as a reminder of what they came to accomplish.
Harvey has explained the meet as one where anything can happen. Last season, high jumper Terrell Reese cleared 7-feet in just his first competition of the season after football workouts to defeat the favored Matt Turner of ASU in the event.
Later in that same meet, Bobby McCoy ran one of the most epic final legs of the 4x400-meter relay in recent memory as he made up a nearly two second time difference on the final exchange to lead the relay team to victory with a blistering sub-45 second split and one of the top-10 fastest times in UA history.
With the competitive blood between these two squads, athletes will do whatever they can to come away the victors. This fact makes the meet ideal to bring out some of the best performances of the season for the young athletes.
With the outdoor championship season on the horizon, the time now is as good as any to light up the track. Field events will kick off Saturday around 4 p.m. while the running events will begin at 6 p.m.
Maggie Callahan started a tear of personal records dating back to last season and has not looked back since. Callahan has set a personal record in every event she has competed in outdoors since arriving as a freshman at the UA last season.
This streak includes her qualification and then performance at the NCAA West Regional Championships in the 3000-meter steeple last year. Callahan has again qualified for the same event this year in persona record fashion while also adding the 5000-meter run to her regional repertoire for this year.
Callahan will look to keep the streak alive this weekend in Tempe.
Freshman Abdi Hassan would have been a freshman last year but was forced to redshirt the season. It appears that year break did little to stifle the talent of the former high school All-American, especially after witnessing his most recent performance at the Mt. Sac Relays where he posted a blistering time of 3:43.54 in the 1500-meters.
The mark was the fastest any UA freshman athlete has run the event in history and is one of the top times posted nationally this season. Hassan has been a pivotal athlete in the middle distance events and will look to carry that streak all the way to nationals.
Senior Luis Rivera-Morales has been a one-man headline this season for the Wildcats between his regional qualifications, conference championships and gradually climb up the UA record book ladder. His performance at the Mt. Sac relays was just the most recent of many impressive ones throughout the season.
Rivera-Morales dominated the triple jump by posting the third best jump in UA history at 15.97m. The jump is one of the top 10 best marks in the country this season and the first time a UA athlete has cleared 52-feet in nearly a decade.
Rivera-Morales qualified for the long jump event in the NCAA National Championships last year and will look to add the triple jump to his repertoire at this year’s NCAA West Regional Championships with a qualification for nationals.
Brian MacArthur may have one of the UA’s most surprising stories of the year after shaving over fifteen seconds from his personal record in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the Sun Angel Classic to earn the first regional qualification of his career.
The junior has been a consistent performer for the UA distance team all season and will look to join fellow distance runner Abdi Hassan at the Big Dance in June.
Throwin’ Out of Their Minds
If anyone had any doubts about the UA’s reputation as a throwers’ school, they need look no further than the NCAA Regional Qualification List.
Of the ten full-time throwers on this year’s UA squad, nine of them have earned a regional qualification in at least one event with several posting multiple qualifications early in the season.
Zack Lloyd leads the men’s squad this year, as he has top-fifteen throws in both the shot put and discus events. Lloyd is the returning conference champion in the shot put and one of the UA’s most decorated athletes with three All-American awards to his name.
For the women, All-Americans Megan Howard (shot put, hammer throw) and Nicole Lloyd (shot put, discus) lead the way with two qualifications a piece. Freshman Taylor Freeman is also a pleasant surprise as she, too, has qualified in both the discus and shot put events.