Nine Wildcats Head to NCAA Indoor Championships

March 9, 2004

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Up Next: Nine members of the men's and women's track and field teams will travel to Fayetteville, Ark. for the 2004 NCAA Indoor Championships. The University of Arkansas will play host to the event at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13. Competition is set to begin at 9 a.m. CT on Friday, while the first Wildcat to compete will be at 4 p.m. CT. Saturday's competition begins at 11 a.m. CT.

The Competition: This is what every athlete has been working for throughout the indoor season, so the competition will be at its highest level. The Wildcat prospects look very good heading into the championship meet, with top-10 rankings in six of seven events.

Most of the men's action will focus on the distance events. Sophomore Robert Cheseret leads a talented group of athletes. Cheseret will toe the line in the 3,000-meter final, where he enters with the fourth-fastest time of the season at 7:52.00.

Senior Kyle Goklish punched his ticket to Arkansas with an outstanding performance at the University of Washington's Last Chance meet on March 6. Goklish crossed the line at 13:55.75 to earn a provisional qualifying mark that is the fifth-fastest time ran this season.

The men's distance medley relay team waited until the final meet of the season to make its presence known. The team ran a school-record time of 9:34.27 to earn an automatic bid. The squad is made up of junior Jin Daikoku, senior Jevon Mason, senior Tim Ramirez and Cheseret.

Junior Chris Chappell will be in the hunt in the men's pole vault competition. Chappell comes in with a personal best mark of 17 feet, 9-3/4 inches, which ranks him No. 5 amongst the competition.

The participants for the Wildcat women look to have a very promising meet, as well. Senior Connie Jerz leads the way for Arizona in the women's pole vault competition. Jerz earned an automatic-qualifying mark at the Washington Last Chance meet. She won the event with a vault of 13 feet, 9-1/2 inches, which ranks her fourth in the women's vault competition.

Junior Sharifa Jones will be a two-event competitor after earning qualifying marks in the 60-meter high hurdles and the long jump. In the long jump, Jones has the fifth-best mark of the 2004 season with a leap of 20 feet, 10 inches. She will take to the track for the 60-meter hurdles with a school record time of 8.24 seconds, which ranks 17th.

Looking Back at the MPSF Championships:
Both the men's and women's teams had exceptional team performances at this past weekend's MPSF Championships. The men made a strong charge on the final day of competition, moving up from fifth to fourth place in the final standings. The women maintained their fifth-place standing throughout the meet.

After careful analysis by head coach Fred Harvey, the Wildcats have a lot to be proud of after the meet. According to the numbers, the Wildcats won five individual titles, set two meet records, had seven NCAA qualifying performances, set one school record, had 21 personal records and 29 season's best performances.

Sharifa Jones improved the school record in the 60-meter hurdles to 8.24 seconds (NCAA provisional), a record she already held. Jones was also one of the five champions, winning the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 10 inches. Angel Perkins was the other individual champion for the UA women, claiming victory in the 60 meters with a time of 7.45 seconds.

The Wildcat men were on a roll in the final day of competition. Robert Cheseret rallied back in the final laps of the 3,000-meter final to win in a blistering time of 7:52.00, improving his NCAA automatic qualifying time, while setting the meet record. Kyle Goklish followed suit in the 5,000-meter final. Goklish took the title with a meet record and NCAA provisional qualifying time of 14:09.51. The distance medley relay team won the third men's title, beating out three of the top-12 teams in the country. The quartet cruised to victory in 9:46.97. Josh Ludwig ran the 1,200m, followed by Eric Chavez's 400 meters, Kenny Frank's 800 meters, while Cheseret sealed the win in the 1,600m leg.

Along with NCAA qualifying marks by Jones, Cheseret and Goklish, the Wildcats had three others qualify for the national championships. Connie Jerz improved her provisional-qualifying mark in the pole vault to 13 feet, 2 1/2 inches. Billie Jo Grant also hit a provisional qualifying mark in the shot put, but holds a better mark from earlier in the season. Chris Chappell improved his provisional-qualifyng mark in the pole vault to 17 feet, 9 3/4 inches.

The Wildcats' success and progress during the indoor season is generating a lot of buzz in the program. The men's and women's squads look for it to carry over to the NCAA Indoor Chamionsips on into the outdoor season.

Meet Recaps:
Northwest Pole Vault Summit
The Wildcat vaulters kicked off the 2004 season at the annual Northwest Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev. Some of the world's best vaulters were on hand for what turned out to be a very successful competition for the Wildcats.

Connie Jerz led the way for the UA women, competing in the Elite Women's division. Jerz finished in a ninth-place tie with a height of 13 feet, 2 1/4 inches. Juanita Braun was another top female vaulter for Arizona. Braun finished second in her section at 12 feet, 9 1/2 inches. Chris Chappell begins the season as the top men's vaulter for Arizona. Chappell was tied for 11th in his division at 16 feet, 4 3/4 inches. Adam Zimnisky won his section at 15 feet, 10 3/4 inches, while teammate Sam Jacobson finished tied for fifth in his section at 15 feet, 1 inch.

Western Indoor Classic
The complete men's and women's squads started the 2004 season in Boise, Idaho at the Western Indoor Classic. The Wildcats came away with three individual titles and 20 Mountain Pacific qualifiying performances.

Angel Perkins won the 60 meters in 7.53 seconds, while teammate Sharifa Jones claimed the 60-meter hurdles title in 8.60 seconds. Jessica Corkill claimed a victory of her own in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 9 1/4 inches. Chris Chappell improved his season's best mark with a vault of 16 feet, 6 3/4 inches. Mike Mensah finished third in both the long jump and triple jump, earning MPSF qualifying marks in both events.

Arizona Shootout
The Arizona men and women both earned victories over Northern Arizona, while falling to Pac-10 rival Arizona State at the Arizona Shootout in Flagstaff. In the process, the Wildcats earned four NCAA provisional qualifiers and a host of MPSF qualifiers.

Jevon Mason led the way for the UA men with a fourth-place finish in the 400 meters, provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships with a time of 47.23 seconds. Chris Chappell set himself up for a chance at the NCAA title with a vault of 17 feet, 5 inches. Billie-Jo Grant is making a big splash with a qualifying throw in the shot put in only the second collegiate meet of her career. She finished second in the event with a throw of 50 feet, 6 1/4 inches. Also, Connie Jerz's vault of 12 feet, 11 1/2 inches was a NCAA provisional qualifier, but she already holds a season's best vault of 13-2 1/4.

Falcon Invitational
The Wildcat women had a very successful meet at the Air Force's Falcon Invitational, a quadrangular meet including Air Force, Arizona, Colorado and Colorado State. The UA women finished second behind Colorado State. The men's squad found the meet to be a very tough challenge and finished fourth.

Angel Perkins won the 60 meters for the third week in a row, this time in 7.51 seconds. Marquita Taylor claimed second in both the 60 meters and 200 meters. Connie Jerz won the pole vault to continue her success during the 2004 indoor season. Billie-Jo Grant had the biggest performance of the meet with a provisional qualifier and huge personal record in the shot put. Grant improved her mark to 52 feet, 4 3/4 inches. For the UA men, Jevon Mason posted a fourth-place finish in the 200 meters. Robert Cheseret won the mile run with a time of 4:13.47. Adam Kuehl hit a season's best throw in the shot put with a toss of 56 feet, 7 1/2 inches.

Pac-10 Invitational
The Pac-10 Invite was a big meet for the Wildcats. The teams had the chance to compete at the same facility where the indoor conference meet would be held, as well as get a look at the competition for the conference meet. Both squads posted several impressive performances, including an automatic qualifier on the men's side.

Robert Cheseret was the Wildcat to claim the first automatic qualifier of the season for Arizona. Cheseret finished second in the 3,000 meters in 7:55.37 to secure a trip to Arkansas and a chance to compete for national title. Sharifa Jones also had a big day en route to a provisional qualifying time of 8.29 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles, which also set the indoor school record in the event.

Coaching Staff: The Wildcat track and field program has one of the nation's best coaching staffs in the nation. Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Fred Harvey enters his second year as head coach and his 17th year with the program. Harvey works primarily with the sprinters, hurdlers and several jumpers. Assistant coach Dawn Mortensen joined the staff in the Fall of 1997. Mortensen was a sprinter for the Wildcat track and field team in the 1990s, and she now works with the sprinters and hurdlers. Assistant coach John Frazier is in his fourth year with the Wildcats after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Florida. Frazier works with the Wildcat throwers and has produced several of Arizona's most outstanding athletes. James Li joined the program in 2002 to coach the cross country teams and to assist with the distance runner during track season. Li was the head coach at Washington State before coming to Arizona, where he had quite a bit of success. The Wildcats' latest addition is that of Eric Boxley. Boxley acted as a volunteer assistant coach in 2003, and he was added to the full-time staff for the 2004 season. Boxley works with the jumpers and vaulters.

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