Field Event Previews: Pac-10 Track & Field Championships
- Championship Central
The Pac-10 Conference currently boasts five student-athletes ranked No. 1 in their respective events on the
NCAA Division I descending order list.
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona will host the 2011 Pac-10 Track and Field Championships, Fri., May 13, and Sat., May. 14, at Roy P. Drachman Stadium. This weekend's events will feature some of the NCAA's top competitors in every event. The Pac-10 Conference currently boasts five student-athletes ranked No. 1 in their respective events on the NCAA Division I descending order list. Here's a preview of the field events:
Washington senior Scott Roth will be wrapping up his illustrious Pac-10 career in the pole vault this weekend. A five-time All-American and the 2010 NCAA Indoor Champion, he enters with the third-best clearance in the world and the top American mark in 2011 with a season best of 18-9.25. Roth's season best is over 14 inches better than teammate Ryan Vu, who ranks second in the conference.
The men's high jump features two Wildcats in the top spots, led by sophomore Edgar Rivera-Morales, who holds a share of the NCAA lead and stands alone at the top of the conference with a season-best jump of 7-5.75. Fellow sophomore Nick Ross enters the competition ranked No. 2 in the Pac-10 with his season-best jump of 7-4.5.
In the women's pole vault, Stanford's Katerina Stefanidi leads the Pac-10 with a season best of 14-6 but Oregon senior and multiple-time All-American Melissa Gergel (14-3.5) is expected to challenge for the title, too.
The women's high jump will feature another Wildcat looking to complete the sweep of the high jump events as sophomore Brigetta Barrett will look for her first Pac-10 title. Coming into the weekend with a share of the world's best jump for the 2011 outdoor campaign, she has a season best of 6-2.75. Barrett has been the NCAA leader in the event since her first jump of the indoor season and has lost only one meet in 2011.
In the men's long jump, Oregon senior Vernell Warren leads the way with a season best of 24-9.75 but the top 13 competitors in the conference all sit within 7.25 inches of each other in what could be one of the most intriguing events of the weekend where one jump could be the difference between first and tenth.
The men's triple jump is not quite as jumbled at the top as UCLA senior Jonathan Clark enters the weekend with a season best and Pac-10 leader of 53-0.75, just ahead of Cal sophomore Hammed Suleman (52-10.75).
Oregon's Jamesha Youngblood (21-2.5) and Arizona State's Christabel Nettey (21-1.5) enter as the top two performers but both of their marks were achieved during the indoor season. California's Tracey Stewart has the top conference mark of the outdoor season at 20-6.5 but spots four through 10 on the conference descending order list all sit within 5.5 inches of that mark.
Stewart also holds the top Pac-10 mark in the triple jump with her season best of 43-9.75, just over an inch better than Stanford's Whitney Liehr, who ranks No. 2 in the conference at 43-8.5.
The throws will be one of the focal points of the weekend, especially in the shot put and discus events, which could be a largely Arizona affair. The women's side features four of the top-10 shot putters in the nation, including top ranked Julie Labonte for Arizona with a best this season of 58-6. Teammates Alyssa Hasslen (Pac-10 No. 3, NCAA No. 9) and Baillie Gibson (Pac-10 No. 4, NCAA No. 10) are also in the mix in the 58-foot club. However, Arizona State's Anna Jelmini will be looking to score big points for the Sun Devils as she enters with the second-best mark in the conference and seventh-best throw in the nation at 56-6.25.
Jelmini will also come into the competition as the favorite in the discus throw, where she leads the conference and the nation with a season-best throw of 198-7 - over 20 feet farther than her closest conference competition in Arizona's Gibson. Though Jelmini holds the top spot, Arizona's Gibson, Labonte, Taylor Freeman and Hasslen round out the top five in what could be a huge point grab for the Wildcats.
USC will look to grab some points in the hammer throw as they will bring the top- and third-ranked competitors in freshman Jenny Ozorai (212-3) and senior Marissa Minderler (205-4) with UCLA freshman Ida Storm (206-0) in the mix, as well.
One of the more tightly contested events could come in the women's javelin competition with the top four throwers in the conference separated by just over 10 feet this season. Washington State senior Marissa Tschida leads the conference with a mark of 178-11 but Washington's Amanda Peterson (174-2), Washington State's Courtney Kirkwood (173-8) and Stanford's Eda Karesin (168-4) could all be very much in the running.
On the men's side, the shot put could again be a largely Arizona-related affair. Arizona State sophomore Jordan Clarke leads the conference with a season best of 61-8.5 but not by much as Arizona freshman Bozidar Antunovic is right on his heels with his best of 61-7.5. Arizona seniors Robert Gire (61-5.5) and Korion Morris (59-11.25) could also score points for the Wildcats.
In the discus, Stanford sophomore Geoffrey Tabor leads the conference with a best of 188-9 this season. The top six student-athletes in the conference are separated by just 10 feet.
Defending Pac-10 hammer throw champion Trey Henderson of USC looks to be the favorite in the event again this year, holding the top throw in the conference and third best in the nation at 227-10, nearly 10 feet farther than his closest competitor in UCLA freshman Alec Faldermeyer (218-5).
The javelin throw could be a battle of Huskies, with Washington senior Kyle Nielson (239-11) and sophomore Joe Zimmerman (239-9) leading the way into the weekend. USC's Cooper Thompson (231-6) comes in as the 2011 Pac-10 runner-up in the event after a dramatic competition that saw him lose the title by two centimeters. Oregon senior Alex Wolff, who sits fourth in the conference this year with a best of 231-3, is a two-time American who could easily throw his way into the top spot as well.
For continued coverage of the 2011 Pac-10 Track and Field Championships, visit pac-10.org or ArizonaWildcats.com.