Wildcats set for National Championships
June 10, 2008
The UA men's and women's track and field teams will look to reap to spoils of their hard work and determination on the season as several athletes will compete at the NCAA National Championships this week in Des Moines, Iowa.After having to face the rigorous tribulations that are required the qualify for this meet, 16 athletes find themselves with a chance to bring home coveted All-American honors in the most prestigious of the collegiate outdoor meets.Ten of those athletes earned automatic spots in this weeks competition by their exceptional finishes at the NCAA West Regional Championships two weekends ago. The six remaining members of the team were selected as the best remaining athletes in an at-large pool by the NCAA.In order to make it to the NCAA Championships, athletes first had to compete throughout the outdoor season to earn a qualification into the regional meet. At regionals, only the top five individuals in each event and top three relay teams in their respective races received the automatic bid to Des Moines.Of the athletes competing this weekend, five are returning to the NCAA Championships for the second straight year. Bobby McCoy, Shevell Quinley, Marcus Tyus, Jasmin Day and Jarred Sola all got their taste of this competition last season and will look to lead a seasoned team to promising results this year.Several other athletes--such as Shawn Best, Zack Lloyd, or Christina Rodgers-- have also seen the likes of national championship competition before, be it in previous seasons, at indoor championships or even at the junior college level. Needless to say, the UA is well represented by a relatively veteran group of athletes this weekend.Sprinter Kyle Alston represents the lone freshman while Jasmin Day, Liz Patterson and Rodgers remain as the only other underclassmen in competition this week.These athletes will look to the guidance of their older teammates to help lead them as both teams aim to score big points for their respective squads and bring home whatever assortment of accolades they can wrestle up in what promises to be an exciting weekend of competition.
Last Time Out-
The men's and women's track and field teams wrapped up the second and final day of competition at the NCAA West Regionals with promising results. Overall, 12 athletes earned themselves a place at the NCAA National Championships while the men's team claimed 7th place of 25 scoring teams with 42 points and the women finished 11th of the 29 teams that scored with 30 points.'I feel that we really started the day strong (with the 4x100m relay) and most the people that we expected to move on did a good job of putting themselves in a position to do so,' said assistant coach Dawn Boxley.The UA men started off the day with a bang, winning the 4 x 100-meter relay and earning themselves a berth at the NCAA National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa in two weeks. The team of Xuehan Xiong, Bobby McCoy, Kyle Alston and Marcus Tyus clocked a time of 39.95 seconds, good enough to edge second-place Washington by two hundredths of a second. The team also earned ten points towards the men's total with the finish. Tyus and McCoy earned All-American status at the 2007 National Championships in the same event, finishing in eighth place.'Last year the whole experience was a little bit of a surprise,' Tyus - who ran the anchor leg of the relay - said after the race. 'But building upon the success from last year we expect to go in there this year and do better than last year.'McCoy would also run in the men's 400-meter dash final later in the evening where he finished seventh. Despite finishing outside the automatic qualifying position, McCoy posts the fastest time in the at-large pool for the national championships and is sure to get in.Christina Rodgers also received an automatic bid to the national championships with her fifth place finish in the women's 800-meter run. Competing against some of the best athletes in the country in the event, Rodgers ran an incredibly strategic race and saved just enough to blow into the final qualifying position and earn an all-time personal best in the process with a mark of 2:04.90. That time also puts Rodgers at second on the all-time 800m list at Arizona, beating her own previous second place mark that was set at the Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago.Zack Lloyd continued his success from yesterday as he, too, earned the fifth and final automatic qualifying bid in the men's discus. His mark of 56.45m (185' 2') helped to earn him his second championship qualification of the weekend. Lloyd finished in second place in the shot put on the first day of the regional meet with his mark of 20.20m (66' 3 ¼').Liz Patterson and Jasmin Day added their names to the list of Wildcat athletes booking their tickets to nationals as they took second and third, respectively, in the women's high jump. Patterson, who suffered a heartbreaking loss in a jump-off at the 2007 regionals to just miss a spot at the national championships, made sure that there would not be a repeat performance with her performance Saturday. Her second place finish solidified her spot as the second ranked high jumper in the country. Both cleared the bar at 1.81m (5' 11 ¼') but Patterson claimed due to having to take less attempts on her previous jumps.Shevell Quinley added to her already impressive resume by also finishing in the fifth automatic qualifying position in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.79. Quinley earned an automatic qualification in the heptathlon earlier in the season and will look to bring home All-American status in two events come nationals. Quinley also earned All-American honors at the NCAA Indoor National Championship earlier in the season with her third place finish in the pentathlon.Brendan Corrigan said an outdoor personal best in the men's pole vault at 5.06m on his way to a top-10 finish in the event.Maggie Callahan also set her second personal record in two weeks in the women's 3000-meter steeplechase. Callahan avoided a disastrous crash heading into the first turn on the field's second lap and went on to finish in 10:43.11 and in 17th place of out 34 competitors.On Friday, the UA men's team earned four auto-bids in the field events in both the shot put and long jump events.The throwing trio of Lloyd, Jarred Sola and Shawn Best continued their consistency by claiming the second, fifth and sixth places in the regional final, respectively. Both Lloyd and Sola saved their best throws for last, as they each earned their best mark on their sixth and final throw. Best did not earn an automatic qualification but his stellar marks throughout the season make him the top thrower in the at-large pool.Luis Rivera-Morales took fifth place in the men's long jump with a mark of 7.51m (24' 7 ¾') to bring the total number of UA athletes qualifying to 12.
Just Making It-
As mentioned earlier, six athletes had to earn their spot in the national championships by being chosen from the NCAA's at-large pool.Senior Bobby McCoy benefited from this practice in the 400-meter dash as he failed to earn one of the five automatic bids offered at the NCAA Regional Meet. However, McCoy brought to the table the fastest time in the country of athletes not earning automatic bids at 45.31 seconds, has earned himself a qualification to Olympic Trials later this month and is coming off a fourth place All-American finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships earlier this year. The resume made McCoy a shoo-in for a position in the final field.McCoy's 4 x 400-meter relay team also found itself chosen from the at-large pool as the 18th and final accepted relay team in the event.The squad is made up of three seniors (McCoy, Jeremie Brower and Robert Chozet) who will all see their outdoor collegiate careers last just a little bit longer and will look to make the most of the opportunity along with fourth teammate Chris Titsworth.Another senior earning an invitation was thrower Shawn Best in the shot put. After having a rough couple weeks towards the end of the season, Best finished sixth and just outside the NCAA qualifying field at the regional meet. However, Best is also an All-American from year's past and holds the countries fifth best throw on the year from earlier in the season which was reason enough to invite him along to the big dance as well.Nicole Lloyd was chosen from the pool in both the shot put and discus events thanks to her outstanding performance at the Triton Invitational earlier in the year to earn her the NCAA seed marks.
Clearing the Bar-
Liz Patterson and Jasmin Day will look to continue to perform as two of the top high jumpers in the country this weekend. Patterson was the Pac-10 Champion in the event and the two have remained the Nos. 2 and 3 jumpers in the country for the entirety of the outdoor season and will look to up the ante a bit this weekend as they both pursue the national crown.Standing in the way, however, is Sharon Day--Jasmin's sister--who has been jumping seemingly out of the sky in prior meets and currently holds the top mark in the country.But sibling rivalry has seen crazier things happen than an upset on the national level and that's what Jasmin will look to do this weekend.
Throes and Throws-
Zack Lloyd heads into this weekend as one of the Wildcat's other big threats to bring home an individual national championship. Lloyd brings to the table to top mark in the country during the collegiate outdoor season in the shot put with his Pac-10 Championship winning throw of 21.03m.Standing in Lloyd's way is Ryan Whiting of ASU, the reigning indoor national champion. The two will look to outclass the field this weekend as they battle for both state and national bragging rights.Senior Jarred Sola will look to earn All-American honors one last time before his collegiate career is up as will fellow senior Shawn Best in the same event.Lloyd will also compete in the men's discus competition.His wife, Nicole, has a tough road ahead of her as both her events (the shot put and discus) have an elite class of athletes competing but will certainly look to raise a few eyebrows and prove herself as a threat for next year.
Despite not earning an automatic qualification at the NCAA Regionals, senior Bobby McCoy can be viewed as a dark horse in the men's 400-meter dash. McCoy raised a couple eyebrows at the indoor championships with his fourth place finish that not many people aside from his coach, himself and his teammates may have expected.McCoy will face off against Pac-10 rivals Lionel Larry of USC, Jordan Boase of Washington and Joel Philip of ASU as some of his main competition this weekend as he comes in with the seventh fastest time in the country.McCoy has said throughout the season that he feels he has not run his best race yet, and a jaw-dropping 44.6 second split during his anchor leg of the 4x400m relay at the UA-ASU-NAU Double Dual meet has shown that the potential is certainly there and no one should look past him.The men's 4 x 400-meter relay team may see a change of personnel in the preliminary rounds as freshman Kyle Alston may take the reigns from McCoy in order to give McCoy a little bit of a break and not fatigue him seeing as he must compete in preliminary and final rounds in three events across the week otherwise.The men's 4 x 100-meter relay team brings in a quarter mile race of a different sort as they will look to defend the All-American honors that last year's team earned in the event. Alston and Xuehan Xiong replace Troy Harris and Antoine Cason from the team that placed eighth at nationals last year and they will look to do better this year, already having claimed the NCAA West Regional title in the event.
The Best of the Rest-
Shevell Quinley will set her sights on All-American honors for the second time this season in the multis, having already claimed third place at the indoor championships in the pentathlon. Quinley will come into the heptathlon as another possible dark horse as many may be influenced by the fact that Quinley did not quite meet expectations at the Pac-10 Championships, even though she was battling injuries throughout that time.Luis Rivera-Morales is used to national championships, having won them in both the long and triple jumps at the junior college level. Rivera-Morales will compete in his first Division-I championship this weekend and will hope to make a similar splash.