Women Fourth After One Day
June 9, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. - Senior Liz Patterson was celebrating his 22nd birthday, her last collegiate meet as a Wildcat and would have loved to finish it all up with one last National Championship. Unfortunately for the Rowlett, Texas native, a rainy day at Hayward Field at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships did not have such a storybook ending in the cards.
Patterson did take home second place in Wednesday's high jump final in Eugene, Ore., however, and her accomplishments in the event during her illustrious career as a Wildcat will not soon be forgotten.
In an event that has sent four Arizona Wildcats to the Olympics, seen four others win NCAA titles, and watched 30 All-American awards handed out in 26 years of UA high jumping before Patterson set foot on campus, it could be easy to get lost in the shuffle.
But not for Patterson. The senior finished her career Wednesday but added her name to the legacy. With five All-American honors and two National Titles in tow, Patterson has solidified herself as one of the elite to ever wear the Cardinal and Navy.
Patterson finished with a best clearance of 1.83m (6-00) on a slick high jump runway that required passes from a squeegee every couple of minutes to maintain safety. The nation's most elite high jumpers all struggled, including Patterson and teammates Brigetta Barrett and Jasmin Day – the latter of whom also finishing up her collegiate career.
Only four athletes advanced beyond 1.80m (5-10 ¾) and Hawaii's Amber Kaufman was the only one to clear the bar at 1.86m (6-1 ¼). The parity of the moment was almost too much. Just two years ago, Patterson came into Des Moines, Iowa and unseated the favorite and former National Champion Sharon Day with a winning height that was exactly the same. Wednesday, Kaufman did the very same.
And yet, the event almost began to look like it could be a replica of this year's indoor championships, with Kaufman perfect through the first set of jumps with Patterson struggling to keep up. But in the end it was Patterson that cleared the final bar where Kaufman did not. On Wednesday, Kaufman was perfect until the attempts at 1.89m (6-2 ¼) where she missed all three jumps. Patterson needed her third attempt at 1.80m just to avoid the shuffle for fifth through twelfth place, cleared at 1.83m and passed to 1.89m where one clearance would have sealed the deal. But alas, it wasn't meant to be.
But a second-place finish is surely nothing to scoff at and Patterson played pivotal part in leading Arizona back to the elite status in the conference and in the country - as much as, if not more than any other person on the women's squad.
And while Wednesday marked the end of one era for Arizona high jumping, it still had a bright light at the end in the emergence of the freshman Barrett as one of the nation's elite. Barrett finish with her best jump of 1.76m (5-9 ¼) to earn her second All-American award of the year, tying for seventh. Barrett already sits eighth on Arizona's all-time list in just her first season and so the first day of competition represented just as much a changing of the guard as anything else.
In the women's 800-meter semifinal, junior Christina Rodgers made her return to the national meet in a big way, holding off Yale's Kate Grace down the stretch in the third heat to finish second and earn an automatic spot in Friday's final where she will get her first shot at fighting for a national title.
Also competing Wednesday were a pair of freshman who have helped the team rise back to the top. Georganne Moline finished 19th overall in the country in the 400-meter hurdles, failing to qualify for the finals while Alyssa Hasslen finished 20th overall in the women's discus.
Events will resume tomorrow on day two where they can be followed through the live blog located here at arizonaathletics.com.