Track Adds Six NCAA Qualifers on Saturday
Jan. 30, 2010
SEATTLE, Wash. – The University of Arizona track and field team was split between two cities this weekend, but the strong results rolled in from both Seattle and Albuquerque as the UA No. 20 men and No. 17 women’s squads combined for five NCAA qualifications Saturday.
Despite a physical distance of approximately 1,450 miles, the UA distance squads – competing in Seattle – shared the common theme with the rest of their teammates down in Albuquerque in achieving high levels of success.
Christina Rodgers, a year-and-a-half removed from her last race at 800-meters – at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships – returned to the scene in a big way at the University of Washington Invitational at Dempsey Indoor in Seattle on Saturday. Rodgers won her heat at 800-meters in a time of 2:07.83 to finish seventh overall and achieve the second fastest indoor mark of her career. Rodgers also earned an NCAA Championships provisional mark in the event, wasting no time getting back in the saddle.
In the men’s mile, redshirt sophomore Abdi Hassan showed just how important he is going to this years team by finishing the event in 3:59.75, one of only four runners to go under four minutes in the event – two of which compete for Nike. Hassan was the first collegiate athlete across the line in the event and also earned and NCAA provisional qualification and was just seven tenths of a second shy of the NCAA automatic mark.
Hassan also earned a provisional qualification last weekend in the 800-meters and showed how much of a threat he can be in the middle distances with Saturday’s performance.
Now, if one would turn their attention to the south, they would find the rest of the UA team was not about to let their distance counterparts one-up them in terms of successful marks.
Junior LaTisha Holden left the track on fire in the 60-meter hurdles setting a personal best in a time 8.34 to finish second overall in the event and earn the first NCAA provisional mark of her career. Last season, Holden established herself as one of the up-and-coming stars in the conference in the hurdles and Saturday’s performance served to show that there would be no drop-off this season.
Also bursting on to the scene and reaffirming just how strong the UA’s freshmen class is was freshman Alyssa Hasslen in the shot put. The high school star out of Oregon showed the strength of the youth on Arizona’s throwing squad by winning the event with a mark of 15.87m (52-1) and joining fellow freshman Julie Labonte in the event as the two athletes with provisional marks.
Labonte finished second in the event and improved upon her own NCAA provisional spot as she threw for a mark of 15.60m (51-2 ¼). Taylor Freeman took home third to complete the UA sweep.
Jimmy Coffin also put his name into the mix as an NCAA provisional qualification on his way to a huge personal best in the pole vault and winning the event with a mark of 5.20m (17-0 ¾). The mark was about half a foot better than Coffin’s previous personal best.
In the men’s triple jump, senior Luis Rivera-Morales added his second NCAA qualification of the year after earning an automatic mark in the long jump two weekend ago by jumping 15.56m (51-0 ¾) to take fourth place in the event on Saturday. Rivera-Morales also finished as the first-ranked collegiate athlete in the long jump with a mark of 7.82m (5-8) to continue his undefeated indoor streak that dates back to the beginning of last year.
Freshman Edgar Rivera-Morales – Luis’ brother – looks to be taking after his brother undefeated ways as he took home first place in the high jump with a mark of 2.19m (7-2 ¼) to win for the second time in as many appearances in the event in his young career.
Senior Liz Patterson won her second high jump event of the season as well as she took home the gold with a clearance of 1.88m (6-2). Patterson earned an automatic qualification in the event earlier this season.
Also notable was the performance of the women’s 4 x 400-meter relay squad which came just over a second shy of earning their own provisional qualification. The squad of Andrea Menhennet, Georganne Moline, Deanna Sullivan and Echos Blevins has been consistently getting better as the season has gone on as their second place finish of 3:41.75 will show.
With Saturday’s performances, the UA’s tally is up to three NCAA automatic bids and nine NCAA provisional bids. The Wildcats will be back in action next weekend at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Neb.