Track & Field Sends Four to NCAA Indoor Championships

March 11, 2003

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Up Next: The University of Arizona's men's and women's track and field teams will send four athletes to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. on March 14-15. The Unversity of Arkansas will play host to this year's championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

The Competition: The Wildcats fill face the nation's best as they pursue individual titles in their respective events. Arizona will be represented by Amy Linnen (pole vault) and Seynabou Ndiaye (60 meters) on the women's side and by Sean Shields (shot put) and Kevin Opalka (pole vault). In the final descending order lists, Linnen is ranked first in the women's pole vault, while Ndiaye is seventh in the 60 meters. For the men, Shields comes in with the seventh best throw, while Opalka is 16th in the men's pole vault.

Fast Forward: With the end of the indoor season upon the Wildcats, the outdoor season has already begun. Arizona will play host to the first of four home meets on March 21-22. The Willie Williams Classic will feature teams from BYU, Washington State, Western State, Minnesota and Central Arizona.

NCAA Indoor Championships:
Junior Amy Linnen: Linnen will seek to defend her 2002 NCAA indoor pole vault title at this year's meet. She heads into the meet with the best collegiate vault this season at 14 feet, 5 inches (4.39m). Her toughest competition will come from Becky Holliday and Niki McEwen of Oregon. Linnen has already won the 2003 MPSF pole vault title in route to being named the women's athlete of the meet, as well as earning Athlete of the Week honors from the United States Track Coaches Association for the week of Feb. 25.

Senior Seynabou Ndiaye: The second-year Wildcat has come on strong in the 2003 season. After transferring from Central Arizona for the 2002 season, Ndiaye has grown into a strong and quick sprinter. She won the 60 meters title at the 2003 MPSF Championships. She also set the school record in the 55 meters at the double-dual meet in Flagstaff earlier in the season, which now sits at 6.80 (altitude-adjusted). Ndiaye enters the meet with a seed time of 7.30 seconds.

Sophomore Sean Shields: Shields has had a strong 2003 indoor season. He set the indoor school record for the shot put at the Boise Elite on Feb. 8. The record now stands at 64 feet, 3 inches (19.58m). He enters the meet ranked seventh, seeking to improve upon his 13th place finish at last year's meet.

Junior Kevin Opalka: In his first NCAA meet of his career, Opalka was the last accepted qualifier for the 2003 meet in the men's pole vault. His vault of 17 feet, 5 inches (5.31m) at the double-dual in Flagstaff qualified him for the meet. Opalka is a strong competitor and could surprise the field at this year's meet by finishing better than his 16th-ranked vault.

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 been led by Jevon Mason and Jeff Hunter. Mason earned a NCAA provisonal qualifying time in the 200 meters during the indoor season and is expected to be a strong contributor in the sprints and relays during the outdoor season. Hunter is the top hurdler for the Wildcats and will be a strong leader as the outdoor season continues. Other Wildcats to look for are Avery Sneed (100m, 200m), Adrain Thomas (200m, 400m) and Daniel Olea (200m, 400m).

Women's Sprints: Senior Seynabou Ndiaye continues to lead the women's sprinters. Her dominance in the 60 meters during the indoor season should transfer over into the outdoor season. Angel Perkins has jumped into the national scene as a freshman and will be a contender at the NCAA's in June. Marquita Taylor continues to grow and improve from week to week. She will be a factor for the Wildcats in the big meets. In the hurdles, Sharifa Jones and Chelsea Powell will be the competitors to look for. Elaine Gilmore (400m), Gina Mazzone (400m) and Lindsay Scarborough (hurdles) are other Wildcats to watch in the outdoor season.

Men's Distance: Among the men's distance runners is a very talented group of runners. The 2003 distance squad have been strong motivators for each other. Every meet, a someone new steps up and shakes up the top times list. There has not been one standout runner, as there have been several top performers. The surprise of the season has been newcomer Robert Cheseret. Cheseret earned a NCAA provisional qualifying time in the 3,000 meters. Aaron Powell (800 meters), Jin Daikoku (800 meters, 1,500 meters) and Graeme Wells (800 meters, 1,500 meters) have been strong in the shorter of the distance races. In the long distances, the Wildcats have relied on Kyle Goklish (5,000 meters) and Josh Ludwig (5,000 meters).

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 earned a provisional qualifying time in the 3,000 meters, but was just short of earning a bid to the meet. The squad's other leader is Nicole Gurnicz, who will be a leader in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and the 5,000 meters. The younger women will add a lot of depth. Adrienne Goeller (5,000 meters), Michi Hirakawa-Wong (800 meters, 1,500 meters) and Jenny Sears (5,000 meters) will be strong for the Wildcats in the outdoor season.

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, Ryan Moore, Rich Legarra and Matt Wagner are other Wildcats who will be on the prowl in the throws. In the jumps, Mike Mensah, J.R. Harrison and Mark Ramos will be the ones to watch in the long jump and triple jump. The pole vault squad's depth will take them to new heights. Kevin Opalka, Chris Chappell and Mike Mortensen will lead the younger vaulters. Matt Johnson and Chris Martin look to make some strides in the high 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 will be a factor for the Wildcats. In the long jump, Sharifa Jones and Jessica Corkill will be very competitive. Julie DeMarni will get to see some action with the opening of the outdoor season, after breaking the school record in the javelin. Along with DeMarni, Amber Varner and Jackilyn Drake look to continue on their success from the indoor season. Rachel Varner will be another strong competitor for the women's throwers.

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-� 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 � 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.


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