Wildcats Roll Into N.M.
Jan. 22, 2010
Luis Rivera-Morales Interview
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of Arizona men's and women's track and field squads will waste no time getting back into things after a promising first week as they head to Albuquerque on Saturday for the Cherry and Silver Invite hosted by the University of Mexico.
This week's competition will see some new faces, however, as the distance teams for both squads will open up the 2010 season. With the least turnaround of any competiting athletes on the roster, the distance squads return to action after wrapping up their cross country season just two months ago.
Notable among those athletes opening up the season is redshirt sophomore Abdi Hassan. Hassan had a respectable indoor campaign last year before exploding onto the outdoor scene to the tune of a school freshman record in the 1500-meters on his way to an NCAA Championship Qualification. Hassan will race in the 800-meters Saturday where he will face off against 2009 NCAA mile champion Lee Emanuel of New Mexico in the very first heat of the event.
In the women's mile, junior Maggie Callahan returns to action after a stellar year on the cross country circuit. A two-time NCAA West Regional qualifier in the 3000-meter steeplechase outdoors and an All-Conference and All-Region selection in cross country, Callahan is already primed for a big year and will look to kick the season off on a good note Saturday.
Alongside Callahan in the mile will be sophomore Hannah Moen, who earned an NCAA provisional qualification in the 3000-meters indoors last year before going on to set the school freshman record in the steeplechase outdoors. Moen was set back by injury during the cross country season and may have fallen off some radars but - now back at full heath – she could raise some eyebrows in 2010.
Another notable opening up the season – and her collegiate career – Saturday will be freshman Elizabeth Apgar in the 800-meters. Apgar was a star at the distance during her high school tenure in San Diego, dominating the event for several years and will look to kick off her collegiate years with a bang this weekend.
Also the 800-meters and also opening up her career is Melanie McGrath. The freshman and Tucson-native was a state champion in the event for Catalina High School in Tucson and could also leave a lasting impression after Saturday.
The distance teams aren't the only ones in action this weekend, however, and Arizona will send a myriad of other athletes to New Mexico looking for NCAA Championship provisional and automatic qualifications.
One athlete who already has earned her automatic bid is high jumper Liz Patterson. Saturday, those expecting to see her should actually turn their heads to the track as Patterson will be trying her hand in the 60- and 200-meter dashes.
Both Patterson and Rivera-Morales currently hold the top marks in the nation for their respective events.
The men's and women's sprinting teams are also returning to the track this weekend after a respectable first week that saw many athletes compete outside their primary events and succeed. This weekend serves as a return to normality for such athletes and the first week of preparation should pay its dividends in New Mexico.
Saturday also marks the UA's first glimpse at some conference competition with athletes from Stanford (ranked No. 16 on the men's side) and Cal (ranked No. 20 on the men's side) in attendance. Strong programs in BYU (ranked No. 5 on the women's side) and New Mexico (ranked No. 23 on the men's side) also give this weekend's meet a much different look and a much higher level of competition than last weekend's Lumberjack Invite at Northern Arizona.
Events will kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center and continue until the early afternoon.