TUCSON - The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 17 men’s and women’s track and field teams are set to open the 2014 indoor season in Flagstaff, Ariz. The meet will take place on Friday at Northern Arizona’s J.L. Walkup Skydome. The running events will start at 5:30 P.M. MST and the field events are set to commence at 4 P.M. All Division I teams will be scored in a double duel format.
Arizona will compete against Arizona State (M: 21, W: 23), Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Fullerton, Grand Canyon University, Northwestern State University, UC Riverside, UNLV and Northern Arizona University.
In the USTFCCCA preseason poll, Arizona’s men sit at No. 17 while the women are not ranked. The men’s poll has four additional Pac-12 schools in the top-25. Oregon is No. 3, Colorado sits at No. 14, Stanford is No. 20 and Arizona State holds the No. 21 spot. On the women’s side, four Pac-12 teams cracked the preseason poll. Oregon is fourth, Stanford sits at the ninth spot, Washington is 20th and Arizona State is 23rd.
On the track for the women’s side, senior Tamara Pridgett will compete in the 60-meter dash. Sophomore Traci-Lynn Hicks will compete in the 200-meter dash as well as the 60-meter hurdles. Hicks will be joined by sophomore Nnenya Hailey, sophomore Morgan Struble, senior Amber Passalaqua (pentathlete), sophomore Ali Rodseth and freshman Aleah Hurst in the hurdles. Freshmen Alex Gilbert, Jasper Gray, Lizzie Smith and Gia Trevisan will all compete in the 400-meter run. Senior Shapri Romero is set to run 800 meters. The women’s squad will field two 4x400-meter relay teams. Team “A” will consist of Hailey, Pridgett, Trevisan and Romero. Team “B” is set to consist of Gilbert, Gray, Struble and Smith.
For the field events on the women’s side, Arizona has four student-athletes entered in the high jump competition, including Passalaqua, junior Shakayla McEaddy and freshmen Lisanne Hagens and Audrey Muir. Hurst and Rodseth will be long jumping as well. Senior Alyssa Hasslen and junior Baillie Gibson will join Passalaqua in the women’s shot put competition. Gibson is also set to compete in the weight throw.
For the men on the track, freshman Avery Mickens and junior Mohammad Alhasan are set to run the 60-meter dash. In the 200 meters, Arizona has entered Alhasan and junior Branden Helms. Freshman Bryce Houston, freshman Miles Parish and junior Neil Houlihan will compete in the 400-meter sprint. Multis Pau Tonnesen and Harrison Ivie will compete in the 60-meter hurdles along with senior Darien McKinley. The men’s 4x400-meter relay team will consist of Houston, Helms, Houlihan and Parish.
On the field events side for the men, senior Nick Ross will compete in the high jump. Tonnesen and Ivie are set to compete in the pole vault. Ross, Tonnesen, Mickens and Ivie will long jump as well. In the men’s shot put, Arizona has Tonnesen, Ivie, freshman Jordan Young, freshman Aaron Castle and junior Daniel Whitham. Young will also compete in the weight throw.
The Wildcats have two men named to the 2014 Preseason The Bowerman Watch List. Lawi Lalang returns as a finalist for the 2013 The Bowerman as the active leader in Watch List appearances with 17. His appearance total is second all-time behind Florida’s Jeff Demps, and it accounts for all 17 of Arizona’s appearances as a program — also the second most in the award’s history. Nick Ross is also on the “Also Receiving Mentions” portion of the list. The award is given to collegiate track and field’s most outstanding male and female athletes of the year.
From the 2013 women’s team, Arizona returns NCAA All-American senior Alyssa Hasslen. She earned a fourth-place finish in the shot put at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Junior Baillie Gibson, a three-time NCAA All-American (2011 Indoor honoree) will form a strong duo with Hasslen in the shot put. Gibson also competes in the weight throw. Junior Elvin Kibet redshirted the 2013 season but she earned a sixth-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships in the 5K. Senior Shapri Romero returns as the leader of the sprinters, she clocked personal-best times in each of the four 400-meter races she ran in last year.
On the men’s side, Arizona welcomes back senior Lawi Lalang, he claimed two NCAA Indoor Championships in 2013, doubling in the mile and 3K. Lalang became the first man since Washington State alumnus and current volunteer assistant coach at Arizona, Bernard Lagat, to win both titles in the same meet. Lagat accomplished the feat in 1999. The Wildcats also welcome back senior Nick Ross, he redshirted the 2013 indoor and outdoor season. Ross won the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championship in the high jump. Junior Jovon Cunningham earned NCAA Outdoor All-America honors in the triple jump as a freshman in 2012. Cunningham and Ross will each also look to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the long jump.
Head coach Fred Harvey returns for his 12th season at the reigns of the Arizona track and field program. Associate head coach James Li (middle distance/distance) enters his 12th season at Arizona. Sheldon Blockburger (jumps/combined events) is in his ninth year. Craig Carter (throws) returns for his eighth season. Francesca Green enters her fifth year as the sprints coach and assistant relays coach, she previously held the title of Director of Operations for four seasons. Maureen Huber (middle distance/distance) will begin her second season at Arizona. Dawn Boxley (Director of Operations) is beginning her 17th year at Arizona.
The women’s squad earned a third-place finish at the 2013 MPSF Championships and tied for seventh place at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships. The men’s team finished in ninth place at the 2013 MPSF Championships and tied for sixth place at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships.
For complete results from the meet and continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat men’s and women’s track and field, visit ArizonaWildcats.com and follow @ArizonaTrack on Twitter.