Five Earn Championship Qualifications at NAU
Jan. 16, 2010
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The UA men's and women's track and field squads wasted no time getting the season started with a bang Saturday at the Lumberjack Invitational in Flagstaff, Ariz. The team was led with five national championship qualifications by the jumping squads.
Senior Luis Rivera-Morales set an indoor school record on his way to victory in the men's long jump. Rivera-Morales - who is competing in his last season of eligibility indoors – sailed 7.88m (25-10 ¼) to earn an NCAA Championship automatic qualification and the tentative top spot in the nation barring results from other meets this weekend.
In the process, Rivera-Morales knocked down the 21-year-old school record held by Percy Knox of 7.86 (25-9 ½) – a mark also set in Flagstaff.
More impressive, perhaps, is the fact that Rivera-Morales has not lost the long jump event indoors in any meet he has competed in since 2008.
Success seems to run in the family as Luis' brother, Edgar, took home a share of first place in the men's high jump with fellow Arizona freshman Nick Ross. The two cleared the bar at 2.20m (7-2 ½) in their first ever collegiate meet. Due to having the same amount of misses, the two finished in a tie for first place. Both also earned NCAA Provisional qualifications with the mark and came within five centimeters of tying the 30-year-old school record in the event.
“Those are two marks that, by all accounts, will get the National Championships,” UA head coach Fred Harvey said of his freshman high jump squad.
Not to be outdone, the UA women's high jumpers also impressed, led by last year's national indoor runner-up Liz Patterson. Patterson didn't miss a jump on her way to a mark of 1.91m (6-3 ¼) to win the event and earn an automatic national qualification. Like Rivera-Morales, Patterson will likely hold the top spot in the nation after the weekend is over.
Freshman Brigetta Barrett affirmed why coaches have been so excited about her, clearing 1.80m (5-10 ¾) in her first collegiate meet to take second in the event and earn an NCAA provisional qualification.
“That was beautiful,” Harvey said of the race. “They both ran very good races and they both have very big races in them still.”
Many other athletes posted impressive personal bests Saturday, giving Harvey a lot of optimism going forward into the season.
“The performances today obviously speak for themselves,” Harvey said. “But the kids understand that obviously this was our first competition and there's a lot of work left to be done.”
The Wildcats will send the distance squad to Albuquerque next week New Mexico Cherry and Silver Invitational.