Track & Field Prepares for NCAA Indoor Championships and Outdoor Season
Feb. 25, 2003
Up Next: Several UA track and field athletes will begin to prepare for the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. on March 14-15. The rest of the squad will gear up for the outdoor season that begins on March 8 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Bill Sawyer Invitational, hosted by Arizona State.
The Competition: The Wildcats prepare to face the nation's best at the NCAA Indoor Championships in several weeks. On the NCAA descending order lists of provisional and automatic qualifiers, the Wildcats are represented in 11 events, with six on the men's side and five on the women's. Arizona's provisional qualifiers will have to wait until March 10 to find out of they will have a chance to compete.
Fast Forward: The beginning of the outdoor season for the Wildcats is March 8 at the Bill Sawyer Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State will play host for the meet. After the outdoor opener, the Wildcats return to Tucson for three consecutive home meets. UA will play host to the Willie Williams Classic, the Mike Maynard Wildcat Combined Events and the Jim Click Shootout, which will all take place at the end of March.
Scouting the Wildcats:Men's Sprints: The Wildcat sprinters are a strong group of runners with a lot of potential. Thus far in the season, the men's sprinting squad has earned five MPSF qualifying times and one NCAA provisional qualifying time. Junior-transfer Jevon Mason joined the Wildcats this season after competing at Alabama for his freshman and sophomore years. He earned a NCAA provisonal qualifying time of 47.20 in the 400 meters in the first meet of the year at the Northern Arizona Invitational. Freshman Avery Sneed (60 meters - 7.14), Sophomore Jeff Hunter (60 meter hurdles - 7.99) and Adrain Thomas (400 meters - 48.59) have all earned qualifying times for the MPSF Championships. The 4x400 meter relay team (3:13.43), made up of Hunter, Thomas, J.R. Harrison and Mason, will also compete at the MPSF Championships.
Women's Sprints: The 2003 season has yet to provide a NCAA qualifier, but the women's sprinters have racked up seven MPSF qualifying times. Senior Seynabou Ndiaye has qualified in the 60 meters with a time of 7.49 and in the 200 meters with a time of 24.84. In the 60 meter hurdles, a trio of Wildcats have earned qualifying times, including Sharifa Jones (8.44), Chelsea Powell (8.86) and Lindsay Scarborough (9.13). The Wildcats' top recruit from the 2002 recruiting class, freshman Angel Perkins, is the team's leading 400-meter runner. She qualified for the indoor conference championships with a time of 55.17. The highlight of the season so far has been the 4x400 meter realy team, made up of Jones, Powell, Scarborough and Perkins. The team broke the school record in a time of 3:45.63.
Men's Distance: Among the men's distance runners is a very talented group of runners. At this point in the season, they have run six MPSF qualifying times and one NCAA provisional qualfiying time. Another school record was broken when the men's distance medley relay took off at the Boston Adidas Classic. The team, made up of Grame Wells, Jevon Mason, Aaron Powell and Robert Cheseret, ran a time of 9:42.78 and are currently ranked tenth in Trackwire's Dandy Dozen of fastest times this season. Jin Daikoku got to business at the Boise Elite Invitational, earning two qualifying times in the 800 meters (1:54.42) and the mile run (4:14.79). Aaron Powell has also qualified in the 800 meters with a time of 1:54.73. Newcomer Grame Wells ran a 4:13.41 in the mile at the Wisconsin Invitational to earn him a spot in the MPSF Championships. In the 3,000 meters, Robert Cheseret (8:22.77) and Kyle Goklish (8:32.58) will represent the Wildcats.
Women's Distance: The women's distance runners are a very young squad with a lot of talent. Junior Beth Hoge is a strong team leader for the women. Hoge is one of two Wildcat women to earn a NCAA qualifying time. Her time of 9:28.62 in the 3,000 meters at the Boston Adidas Classic earned her a provisional-qualifying time for the NCAA Indoor Championships. She also has qualified for the MPSF Championships in the mile with a time of 4:50.19. Redshirt freshman Amber Steen has also earned and MPSF qualifying time in the mile with a time of 5:02.98.
Men's Field: The highlight of season in the men's field events was Sean Shields new indoor school record in the shot put at the Boise Elite Invitational. His throw of 64 feet, 3 inches (19.58m) automatically qualified him for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Scott Sharpe and Ryan Moore will join Shields in the competition at the MPSF Championships. All three throwers have also qualified in the weight throw. The Wildcats have a core group of talented jumpers and vaulters who constantly perform well. In the pole vault, Kevin Opalka (17-0, 5.18m), Mike Mortensen (16-6 3/4, 5.05m) and Chris Chappell (16-6, 5.03m) have all qualified for the postseason. High jumper Matt Johnson will also join the Wildcats at the indoor conference championships. In the horizontal jumps, Mark Ramos, Mike Mensah and J.R. Harrison will represent the Wildcats in the long jump at the indoor conference championships. Harrison and Mensah will also compete in the triple jump.
Women's Field: As with any other season, the women's field events are a strong point for the Wildcats. The highlight of the season so far has been Amy Linnen's NCAA automatic qualifier in the pole vault at the Northwest Pole Vault Summit. She cleared 13 feet, 10 3/4 inches (4.21m), which is the best mark by a collegiate woman this year. Fellow vaulters Phyllis Brown and Juanita Braun have both qualified for the MPSF Championships. Long jumper Jessica Corkill earned herself a spot in the indoor conference championships after a third-place finish at the Boise Elite Invitational. In the throws, Amber Varner is a double-qualifier in the shot put and weight throw, while teammate Jackilyn Drake will compete in the weight throw.
2003 Season Outlook: The 2003 track and field season brings about a lot of changes for the University of Arizona. Former associate head coach Fred Harvey has moved up to Director of Track & Field and Cross Country. For the first time in 35 years, the Wildcats have a new cross country/distance coach in James Li for the first time in 35 years, and the team is loaded with a lot of young, freshman talent. But not everything is new for the Wildcats as the team also returns some of its top performers from the 2002 season, including Amy Linnen, Beth Hoge, Chelsea Powell, Julie DeMarni, Matt Lea, Mark Anderson, J.R. Harrison, Mike Mortensen and Sean Shields.
The final standings at the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships may not have had Arizona where they expected to finish, but the outlook for the coming season couldn't be better.On the men's side, the future looks very bright. The Wildcats will return seven NCAA qualifiers, one All-American, ten All-Pac-10 performers and three out of four members of both relay teams, which were runners-up at the Pac-10 Championships. The Wildcat men return All-Pac-10 and NCAA performers in every event area.
The Arizona women head into the 2003 season with a fresh, new look. They return a good number of core athletes, including five NCAA qualifiers, one All-American and three All-Pac-10 performers. The squad will feature some of last year's top performers in every event area.
The talent of the freshman recruiting class is another thing to take note of when the 2003 version of the track and field team heads to competition in early January. 'All in all, I feel we had, for the second consecutive year, one of our top recruiting classes,' commented head coach Fred Harvey. In the past two years, the Wildcats have recruited several of the top athletes out of California and Texas, along with some of the top track and field athletes in state of Arizona history. 'Recruiting is the core of our success, and I feel that we have a great core at this time,' Harvey explained.
The 2003 season is expected to be another successful one for the Wildcats. With the returnees from last year's teams and the incoming recruiting class, the tradition of success in the Arizona track and field program is sure to continue under the new leadership of Harvey. The new and fresh look for this year's squads is sure to improve on the already-great reputation of what is known as Arizona track and field.
2002 In Review: The University of Arizona's men's and women's track and field teams continued the tradition of excellence as they ended the 2002 season at the NCAA Championships in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The meet was highlighted by some of the team's top contributors from the season.
Senior Brianna Glenn once again had a busy NCAA meet and proved to be one of the most talented and versatile athletes in the nation. Glenn placed in three events at the national meet, earning All-America honors in the long jump, 100 meters and 200 meters. She placed third in the long jump, fourth in the 100 meters and sixth in the 200 meters.
Senior Angela Foster earned her second All-America honor in the hammer throw. She placed eighth in the hammer with a throw of 200 feet, 3 inches. Foster played an integral part in the team's recent success at the national level and will be missed greatly.
In her first year as a Wildcat, junior Julie DeMarni qualified for the NCAA Championships and placed 16th overall in the javelin. She is also the new school record-holder in the javelin. After another year under her belt, DeMarni should contribute greatly at the national level.
Sophomore Beth Hoge made her debut at the NCAA Championships this past spring. Hoge finished 13th in the 5,000 meters. She is the team's top returning distance runner and will contribute greatly over the next to years to the Wildcat cross country and track and field teams.
Sophomore Amy Linnen currently holds the collegiate record in the indoor pole vault at 14 feet, 10-ï¿½ inches, as well as the World Junior record at the same mark. She placed 13th at the USAT&F meet. Linnen has established herself as truly one of the finest vaulters in the nation. She is an up and coming athlete on the world level.
Senior Mike Kenyon competed in both the 200 meters and the 400 meters at the NCAA Championships, bringing home All-American honors in both events. He placed 11th in the 200 meters and seventh in the 400 meters. He then went on to compete at the USAT&F meet where he placed fifth in the 400m, qualifying him for the relay pool at the World Cup.
Sophomore Mike Mortensen made his debut at the NCAA Championships in the pole vault. He vaulted 16 feet, 10-3 ï¿½ inches to claim 14th place. His highest vault of the year was 17 feet, 7 inches, which is almost a foot higher than his previous best. Mortensen is anticipated to be very successful over the next two years.
Freshman Sean Shields was a huge addition to the team this past season. He placed ninth at the NCAA Championships, earning his second All-American honors as a freshman. He earned his first honor at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Shields then went on to compete in the USA Junior National meet, where he placed first in the shot put, setting a new World Junior record and American Junior record with a throw of 67 feet, 9 inches. He was also second in the discus. He then went on the World Junior meet where he placed second in the shot put and eighth in the discus. In the next three years, he could develop into one of the finest athletes ever to compete at the University of Arizona.
The 2001-2002 cross country and track and field seasons were a time for the Wildcats to say good bye to one of the namesakes of the program. Dave Murray retired as the Director of Track and Field and Cross Country after 35 years of coaching at the University of Arizona. His shoes will be filled by former Associate Head Coach Fred Harvey. Harvey is entering his 16th season with the Wildcats and enters his new position ready to lead the Wildcats to more successful ventures. He has coached many All-Americans, several national champions, and several Olympians. He has recently been selected to be the head coach of Team USA's men's team at the 2003 Pan American Games.
The 2001-2002 season ended successfully for the Wildcats. The teams look forward to beginning a new era of Wildcat track and field in 2003 under a new head coach and with many exciting possibilities with the talent of the athletes.
The Coaches: Head coach Fred Harvey (16th year, Cal Poly-SLO, '82) begins his first year as the Wildcats' leader. Harvey has coached several world-class athletes, such as Patrick Nduwimana, a 2000 Olympic semifinalist and Arizona track and field veteran. Assistant coach Tom Hays (6th year, Kansas, '89) is one of the top pole vault coaches in the nation and will direct the Wildcat jumpers this season. Assistant coach John Frazier (3rd year, UCLA, '86) was an addition to last year's coaching staff. The Wildcat throwers will be led by coach Frazier. Assistant coach Dawn Mortensen (6th year, Arizona, '96) was a standout sprinter for the Wildcats in the 1990s and works with the Arizona sprinters and hurdlers. Assistant coach James Li (1st year, Beijing Institute of Physical Education) joins the Wildcat coaching staff to coach the distance runners. Li also heads up the Wildcat cross country teams.