Rodgers, Labonte Earn All-American
June 11, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. - The University of Arizona's women's track and field team has already scored more points at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships than it did at all the championship meets between 2003 and 2006 combined. Now with one day left of competition, the team is looking at its highest point total and best finish in general since 2001.
Junior Christina Rodgers got things rolling Friday evening at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., matching her career personal best in the 800-meters to the hundredths in a time of 2:04.47 to finish fourth in the final and earn the first All-American award of her career.
Only LSU's Latavia Thomas (third) and Tennessee's Phoebe Wright (first) ran a faster final 200-meters than Rodgers, who staved off Oregon's Anne Kesserling who passed Rodgers down the stretch at the Pac-10 Championships to snatch away the conference crown in the event. As Kesselring pulled to Rodgers' shoulder with half a lap left, Rodgers turned on the burners, leaving Kesselring in the dust and sprinting to a personal best in the process.
It was a fitting return to the national championship scene for Rodgers, who was forced to sit out last season due to injuries after advancing to the National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa the previous year. Rodgers made up for lost time on Friday.
As Rodgers was crossing the finish line, freshman Julie Labonte was launching her first throw in the women's shot put finals 16.59m (54-4 ¼) – a mark that would hold for fourth place overall and the first All-American award in what has to be considered one of the most impressive freshmen seasons in UA throwing history.
The two fourth place finishes earned 10 points for the UA women and put them fifth after three days of competition with sophomore Hannah Moen still to go in the women's steeplechase final tomorrow. The UA currently has 19 points.
On the men's side, freshman Nick Ross helped the Wildcats avoid quite the opposite result with his seventh place finish in the men's high jump.
Ross cleared 2.17m (7-1 ½) to finish in a tie for seventh and earn 1.5 points for Arizona. In doing so, he helped make sure that 2010 wouldn't be just the fourth time in the past forty years that the men's squad posted a goose egg at the National meet.
The NCAA Championships will wrap up tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. PST. Live coverage of the event will be aired on CBS.