Albuquerque, N.M. –The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 5 men’s and women’s track and field teams wrapped up the first day of competition at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The meet is being held at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, N.M. Saturday’s heptathlon starts at 10 a.m. MST while the field events commence at 2 p.m. Events on the track start at 5 p.m. At the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships, the men’s team tied for sixth place while the women tied for seventh place.
After the first day of competition, the Arizona men’s team sits in second place with 16 points. Oregon leads with 24 points. Stanford has 14 points in third place. Florida has 13 points in fourth place and three teams are tied for fifth place with 12 points.
On the women’s side, Stanford leads with 22 points. Florida has 19 points, good for second place. Texas A&M’s 16 points puts them in third place. South Dakota has 13 points in fourth place. Georgia sits in fifth place with 11.50.
Senior Lawi Lalang earned a runner-up finish in the men’s 5K with a time of 13:52.83. He led for the entire race with Edward Cheserek (Oregon) on his tail. With 250 meters to go, Cheserek made a move and Lalang couldn’t match it. Once Lalang knew he couldn’t catch Cheserek, he cruised into the finish line for second place. He added eight points to the men’s team total. Lalang began the day with the preliminary round of the mile at 5 p.m. MST. He earned a second-place finish in heat one and automatically qualified for the final with a time of 4:04.27. Lalang’s time was the slowest mile of his career by around five seconds, enabling him to conserve energy while still advance. Saturday’s final will take place at 5 p.m. MST. He also has the 3,000-meter final at 6:40 p.m. MST.
“(How fast his kick was) It surprised me but I knew it (the kick) was going to come,” Lalang said. “That might have been my one mistake, running the mile too fast. I was supposed to stay relaxed but I ran the last three laps kind of fast. I just got pumped up. My plan now is to just get strong, recover, and look at tomorrow as another day.”
Senior Nick Ross earned a runner-up finish in the men’s high jump competition with a clearance of 7-6 (2.29m). Ross entered the competition with the No. 1 mark in the country. His final attempts came at a height of 7-7.25 (2.32m), which would have been a personal-best clearance and Arizona record. James Harris (Florida State), the winner of the competition, had a personal-best clearance at 7-6 and 7-7.25. Ross redshirted the 2013 indoor season but in 2012, Ross claimed the NCAA title in the event. He earned first-team NCAA Indoor All-America honors all four years as a Wildcat. He won two MPSF Championships and took second place the other two years. He owns the only NCAA Championship for the men’s high jump in Arizona history.
“It took me a little while to get going,” Ross said. “Once my run got dialed in, things started going a lot better. I had a couple of silly misses at some lower bars that I shouldn’t have had. (Because of that) I put a little more pressure on myself than I wanted to. But overall, I can’t complain on the day. The guy that won almost broke the collegiate record, to lose to a guy like that, it is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Junior Pau Tonnesen finished day one of the men’s heptathlon with a score of 3,264 points. That score his good for seventh place after four of the seven events. He began the day with a personal-best time of 7.32 in the 60-meter dash. That time was good 772 points. He long jumped 23-0.75 (7.03m), another personal best and good for 821 points. Tonnesen had another personal best in the shot put, throwing 45-10 (13.97m) and added 727 points to his tally. Tonnesen cleared 7-0.5 (2.15m) in the high jump competition. That is a personal-best clearance and also tied the meet record. The previous record was set 6-11 (2.11m) set by three men, the latest coming in 2013.
Sophomore Nnenya Hailey clocked a time of 8.31 in the preliminary round of the 60-meter hurdles. She took seventh place in heat one (13th overall) and did not advance to the final. Senior Shapri Romero took fourth place in heat four (15th overall) of the women’s 400-meter sprint with a time of 53.30. She did not advance to the final. As the only freshman in the men’s weight throw field and ranked No. 7 heading into the competition, freshman Jordan Young fouled on all three throws and did not advance.
“It was one of those odd days,” head coach Fred Harvey said. “We started off really well, we’re really excited for Pau Tonnesen, four personal bests in the heptathlon so he’s in great shape. We had some great performances, Nick Ross ended up second in the high jump and Lawi ran easy and won his section in the mile. Then he comes back and ends up getting second in the 5,000 meters. It’s really interesting; I’m trying to figure out where I am emotionally. You’re looking at a guy who just got second place in the 5K, which is good, but you know that he wants more. It’s kind of a mixed emotion thing. The ladies ran well, Shapri Romero ran one of her best times indoors. But the experience of her being here will help her be a much better athlete when we go outside. Nnenya Hailey in the 60-meter hurdles ran well but got a little bit out of control towards the end of the race. But her experience as well will also help going outside. All in all it was a god day, we’re still in position to be a top-five team for the men’s side depending on how things shake out tomorrow.”
Live results will be available at flashresults.com. ESPN3.com will have a broadcast of the meet on Saturday set to start at 4:50 p.m. MST. ESPNU will broadcast the meet on March 22 at 3:30 p.m. MST. For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat men’s and women’s track and field, visit ArizonaWildcats.com and follow @ArizonaTrack on Twitter