Cat's in Eugene for Pac-10s
May 15, 2009
The UA men’s and women’s track and field programs will head to Eugene, Ore. this weekend to compete for their first ever conference titles as they take part in the 2009 Pacific-10 Conference Championships at Hayward Field hosted by the University of Oregon.
The UA men, in their 20th year of competition in the Pac-10 Conference, will look to make it their most successful with their first ever title. Too date, the men’s best performance in the annual meet has been 3rd place at the 2006, 1998 and 1989 Conference Championships. This year’s team brings with it a fair share of athletes who can put up big points and take down many individual conference titles.
Senior thrower Zack Lloyd is the returning conference champion in the shot put, setting a school record at the meet last season with a winning mark of 21.03m (69-0). Lloyd enters this weekend ranked second in the conference in the event in addition to being one of the top throwers entering the discus event as well.
He’ll be joined by senior Luis Rivera-Morales who has erupted on the scene this year in the long jump events sweeping the conference titles at the Mount Pacific Sports Federation Championships indoors. He is currently ranked among the top 15 athletes nationally in both the long and triple jumps this season and will look to build upon that ranking this weekend.
Other athletes who could make a splash include senior Nick Mossberg in the pole vault, freshman Tomaz Bogovic in the hammer throw, All-American long jumper Jordan Powell, freshman 1500--meter school record holder Abdi Hassan and the 4 x 100-meter relay squad. All these athletes bring some of the highest ranked conference marks on the season to Eugene this weekend.
The women are led by two former Pac-10 Champions. Junior Liz Patterson is the returning champion and the returning NCAA National Champion and is still looking for her first monstrous jump of the outdoor season. She is joined by fellow junior Gabriella Duclos in the pole vault, the Pac-10 champion two years ago and indoor All-American this season.
The UA throwers will also be pivotal this weekend as five women have earned a NCAA regional qualification, some of which in multiple events. All-American seniors Nicole Lloyd and Megan Howard lead the way and are joined by Taylor Freeman, Kendra Walworth, and Kelsey Jessup.
Both teams will kick of the meet with two points thanks to the performance of their multi-event athletes in last week’s Pac-10 Combined Event Championships. Senior Shevell Quinley and Sophomore Chris McGovern both took home sixth place finishes in Eugene last weekend McGovern doing so in decathlon personal record fashion while Quinley earned an NCAA provisional qualification in the heptathlon.
Events will begin Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Hayward Field with the 4 x 100-meter relay preliminary rounds. Field events start at 1:35 with the javelin throw.
Come On Irine
Senior distance runner Irine Lagat is looking to make the best of her final season as a Wildcat and has already put herself in position to do so with her performances this year.
Lagat has qualified in both the 1500-meters and 5000-meters for the NCAA West Regional meet, a combination that many might find similar to her brother Bernard who became the first athlete ever to win both events at the 2007 World Championships.
Lagat enters the weekend ranked just outside the top-10 in the conference in both events but the level of her competition could be all it takes to push her over the top and into a point-scoring performance for Arizona.
The UA has its own particular athletes who compete in the combined events week in and week out. But they have a set of multi-eventers of a different sort as well in those athletes who have earned regional qualifications in multiple events.
So far Irine Lagat (1500m, 5000m), Maggie Callahan (steeple, 5000m), Megan Howard (shot put, hammer), Nicole Lloyd (shot put, discus), Taylor Freeman (shot put, discus), Kyle Alston (200-meters, 4x100-meters), Xuehan Xiong (200-meters, 4x100-meters), Luis Rivera-Morales (long jump, triple jump) and Zack Lloyd (shot put, discus) have all earned regional qualifications in multiple events.
A number of Wildcats will compete in several events this weekend and it would not be surprising to see event more add themselves to the aforementioned list.
XX Racks Up Another One
During his tenure as a Wildcat, Xuehan Xiong has been to two national championships and earned All-Conference, All-Region and All-American honors. What’s more impressive, however, has been his performance off the track where he has remained a model student throughout his entire career.
Xiong was recently named by the Arizona Athletic Department as the co-valedictorian of the graduating class of seniors after maintaining a 4.0 GPA in computer science for the entirety of his schooling.
Xiong was also recent accepted in the prestigious Carnegie Melon School of Robotics where he will continue with his post graduate career.
Xiong has qualified in the 200-meters and the 4x100 meter relay so far this season and will look to impress in both of those events as he rounds out his career as arguably one of the most impressive student-athletes in Arizona history.
Year of the Freshman
Nothing may be so impressive this season as the performance of the Arizona freshmen. Of the UA’s 38 regional qualifiers, seven of them involve freshmen.
Taylor Freeman has already earned two regional qualifications this season in both the shot put and discus throws and Dahlys Marshall has had a very impressive season in her opening year as a hurdler as she heads up the depth chart with her consistent performances under the required regional time.
James Eichberger earned a regional qualification in the 800-meters at the Double Dual meet in just his first season and Chris McSwain rounds out the regional qualifiers by being a part of the 4 x 100-meter relay squad that has also qualified.
The showing of the freshman has been pivotal not only to replacing the myriad of successful seniors that left the program after last season, but also giving everyone a glimpse of the future as these kids can only go up from here.
Sophomore Maggie Callahan started a tear of personal records dating back to last season and has not looked back since. With the exception of the UA-ASU-NAU Double Dual two weekends ago, Callahan has set a personal record in at least one event at each meet she has competed at since arriving at the UA as a freshman last season.
This streak includes her qualification and then-personal best 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 personal 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.
The fact of having to reshirt his freshman year last season seems to have little impact on Abdi Hassan’s performances this year. 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. He followed up this performance with a consistent 3:43.95 at the UA-ASU-NAU Double Dual two weekends ago, setting a meet record in the process. Hassan has been one of the UA’s hottest performers and the team will expect to see another impressive performance from him against some top competition this weekend.
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.
To date this season, 38 UA athletes have earned qualifications for the NCAA West Regional Championships. This is just one shy of last year’s 39, an accomplishment considering the loss of seniors from last years squad that were regional qualifiers.
With the amount of competition in the field this weekend, many more athletes have the potential to go over the hump while others who have already cleared the qualification may see even better times or marks as they aim for their respective individual conference championships.
Nick of Time
Senior Nick Mossberg has been one of the UA’s most impressive pole vaulters in recent memory and at the UA-ASU-NAU Dual two weekends ago he added another reason why.
Mossberg set an all-time person best as he won the event with a mark of 5.41m. Mossberg now sits alone in fourth place on the UA’s all-time list and is one of the top-ten ranked athletes in the event nationally this season.