Flagstaff, Ariz. – The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 17 men’s and women’s track and field teams opened up the 2014 indoor season with the Lumberjack Team Challenge in Flagstaff, Ariz. The Wildcats won eight events on the day and set two school records as well.
Senior Nick Ross won the men’s high jump competition with a personal-best clearance of 7-6.5 (2.30m). That mark is good for a school record and ranks as the No. 1 collegiate mark in the country thus far. Ross cleared 7-5.25 (2.27m) to initially break UA alumnus Edgar Rivera-Morales’ record of 7-5 (2.26m) that was set on March 9, 2013 in Fayetteville, Ark. Ross then followed up that clearance with his jump of 7-6.5 He took three strong attempts at 7-7.75 (2.33m) but failed to clear the bar. Ross also competed in the long jump and posted a mark of 23-4.75 (7.13m), he qualified for the final but did not participate so he could focus on the high jump competition. Rivera-Morales competed in Friday’s meet as well and took second place overall with a clearance of 7-3.25 (2.22m). On the women’s side, junior Shakayla McEaddy set a personal-best mark of 5-8.75 (1.75m), good for first place overall. Senior Amber Passalaqua and freshman Lisanne Hagens both competed as well and cleared 5-5.75 (1.67m).
“I felt great,” Ross said. “I felt really relaxed and ready to go. I’ve been working hard with Edgar and Jonny (Giess); we’ve been out there really grinding it out. I was ready to come here and put up a good mark. Individually, setting the school record means a lot but it means more to me as a team, I really wanted to put a mark out there for Lezo (Urreiztieta) because of the circumstances. It means a lot, it’s a great accomplishment and I look forward to just keep it going. I’m feeling really confident, I’m a lot further ahead of the game than I was two years ago (redshirted 2013 season) so we’ll how it plays out at the conference and NCAA Championships.”
Freshman Jordan Young had a mark of 69-2 (21.10m) in the men’s weight throw competition, good for first place overall and an Arizona school record. The previous record was set in 1995 by David Loshonkohl who threw 68-10 (20.98m). Senior Alyssa Hasslen earned a first-place finish in the women’s shot put competition with a toss of 55-1 (16.79m). Junior Baillie Gibson took fourth place overall with a mark of 49-10.5 (15.20m). Passalaqua, a pentathlete, threw 35-8.5 (10.88m), a personal-best toss. On the men’s side, freshman Aaron Castle had a strong throw of 60-16 (18.44m), good for second place overall and first among collegiate competitors. Young had a toss of 56-1 (17.09m), taking fourth place.
“Tonight was definitely an interesting one,” Young said. “In practice, I have been feeling pretty good about my throws and I have been working on developing a consistent technique to keep pushing the distance. Going into the meet I had expected to throw around 65 feet because that's what I have been training at. During warm-ups, coach (Craig) Carter gave me a simple tip that really balanced me out and it made the 35lb weight feel much lighter because I was in good positions. I knew I had the potential to break the school record this year, I just had not expected to do so in my first meet. It really is an honor and it helps to open my eyes to even bigger possibilities throughout my collegiate career."
In the 60-meter hurdles, sophomore Nnenya Hailey posted the top time in the preliminary and in the final. She clocked a time of 8.42 in the preliminary round, which was a personal best at the time. But, she returned for the final and ran the race in 8.40, good for first place overall and a personal best. In the preliminary round, Passalaqua and sophomore Morgan Struble posted times of 9.02 and 8.94, respectively. Struble’s time of 8.94 is a personal best. Passalaqua and Struble ran in the final and both of them posted times of 9.08. On the men’s side, senior Darien McKinley tied a personal best, running the 60-meter hurdles final in 8.51, good for third place.
Junior Mohammad Alhasan posted a personal-best time of 6.75 in the preliminary round of the men’s 60-meter dash. He followed up that performance with a time of 6.79 in the final of the event, good for fourth place overall. In the women’s 60-meter dash, senior Tamara Pridgett clocked a time of 7.58 in the preliminary round and 7.59 in the final, good for fifth place.
Junior Pau Tonnesen, a heptathlete, cleared 16-0.75 (4.90m) in the men’s pole vault competition, good for a tie in third place. Tonnesen also long jumped and had a mark of 22-4.25 (6.81m). Freshman Avery Mickens competed in the long jump as well and he jumped 23-0.5 (7.02m).
On the men’s side of the 400-meter run, freshman Miles Parish clocked a time of 48.83, good for first place overall. Junior Neil Houlihan’s personal-best time of 49.22 was good for sixth place overall. Freshman Bryce Houston posted a time of 50.22 in the race. For the women’s 400-meter sprint, freshman Jasper Gray posted the top time among Wildcats, running 56.62. Fellow freshman Alex Gilbert had a time of 59.01. In the women’s 800-meter run, senior Shapri Romero took first place with a time of 2:16.25. The quartet of Hailey, Pridgett, Gray and Romero clocked a time of 3:42.91 in the women’s 4x400-meter relay, good for second place overall. The men’s quartet of Houston, Helms, Parish and Houlihan clocked a time of 3:17.12 in the 4x400-meter relay, good for third place overall.
“I’m pretty excited about a lot of the performances that we had,” head coach Fred Harvey said. “It’s always nice to get that first meet under your belt and to see how people compete. I thought we competed really well and really hard. Nick Ross probably had the performance of the day. I was really pleased to see Alyssa Hasslen get a good throw off today; she’s had some knee issues. She probably had the best opening competition of her career as an Arizona Wildcat. I think the biggest thing is, emotionally, watching everybody compete and how they competed, it was going to be hit or miss. But, I think they came out and they got things done. We’re going to have to do a bit of work but we’re moving on to the next meet and we have a good team.”
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