Track & Field Claims Three Titles in Day One of NCAA West Regional

May 28, 2004

TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona's men's and women's track and field teams completed the first day of competition at the NCAA West Region Championships on Friday. The Wildcats put themselves in contention with impressive performances in a number of preliminary races, as well as several field event finals. The Wildcat women sit in second place with 25 points, while the men are in sixth with 16 points. UCLA sits atop the women's standings with 36 points, while USC has the lead on the men's side with 37 points. The top five finishers in each event earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas, which run June 9-12.

Junior Sharifa Jones scored a big victory for the Wildcat women in the long jump final. Jones won with an outdoor seasonal best leap of 20 feet, 5 inches (6.22m). 'That was pretty special,' head coach Fred Harvey said. 'She's been working on being more aggressive and extending the runway. It's always been in her, and today she did it. She it hit on her first jump, and everything was good.'

In the women's discus, sophomore Rachel Varner helped the Arizona women rack up a few more points. After fouling a potential 190-foot throw on her first attempt, Varner came back on her third attempt to make the finals. She won the title with a throw of 189 feet, 9 inches (57.85m). 'She proved that she could come back and hit a bigger throw,' throws coach John Frazier said. 'She had her second-best all-time throw in championship meet. It's a really good thing for her.'

Sophomore Robert Cheseret helped out the UA men as he raced to the 5,000-meter title Friday night. Cheseret claimed the victory in 14:09.86, edging Seth Hejny of Stanford in the homestretch. Senior Kyle Goklish tacked on a few more points to the men's team score with a fourth-place finish in the 5,000 meters. Goklish crossed the line at 14:13.26.

Senior Connie Jerz earned herself a return trip to the NCAA Championships after she finished fourth in the women's pole vault final. Jerz qualified with a clearance of 13 feet, 1 � inches (4.01m). Jerz finished runner-up at the 2003 NCAA Championships.

The day started early Friday morning with the women's hammer. Senior Jackilyn Drake was the top Wildcat finisher. Drake's throw of 175 feet, 7 inches (53.53m) was good for 16th place in the final individual standings. Junior Amber Varner finished 23rd with a throw of 170 feet, 11 inches (52.09m).

In the men's hammer, senior Ryan Moore kicked off the competition for the men's team. Moore placed 14th with a toss of 183 feet, 6 inches (55.93m).

Competition on the track began with the women's 4x100-meter relay prelims. The Wildcats qualified for the final on Saturday with the sixth-fastest time at 45.23 seconds. The quartet included freshman Tiffany McDonald, sophomore Angel Perkins, sophomore Marquita Taylor and junior Sharifa Jones.

In the women's 100-meter hurdles, Jones earned a spot in the final with a time of 13.26 seconds, the third-fastest time of the day. Freshman Tiffany McDonald finished 15th overall with a time of 14.12 seconds.

Sophomore Angel Perkins ran a time of 53.36 seconds in the prelims of the 400 meters. Perkins qualified with the fifth-fastest time of the day. In the men's 400-meter prelims, senior Jevon Mason came up short in his bid to reach the NCAA Championships. Mason crossed the line with the 12th-fastest time at 47.16 seconds, just short of qualifying for the final.

The UA men had two freshmen throwers in the men's shot put. Adam Kuehl was the top finisher with a throw of 54 feet, 2 � inches (16.52m), placing 19th in the overall individual standings. Jarred Sola was 22nd with a throw of 51 feet, 1 � inches (15.59m).

Junior Mark Ramos gave the UA men their first point of the meet with an eighth-place finish in the men's long jump. Ramos' best mark came on his sixth and final attempt with a jump of 23 feet, 9 � inches (7.25m).

In the women's 400-meter hurdles prelims, junior Chelsea Powell came up a half second short of qualifying for the final. Powell had the tenth-fastest prelim time, crossing the line in 1:00.64.

The Wildcats will be back in action on Saturday beginning with the men's javelin at 8:30 a.m. PT. Live results can be found at Cal State Northridge's website, www.gomatadors.com.

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