Fayetteville, Ark. – The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 20 men’s and No. 14 women’s track and field teams are competing in the NCAA West Preliminaries in Fayetteville, Ark. The NCAA West Preliminaries is the first and second rounds of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Day two of the competition was wrapped up on Friday evening. Saturday is the third and final day of competition. Arkansas’ John McDonnell Field is playing host to the meet. The semifinals and finals of the NCAA Championships will take place June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore. After the second day of competition, four student-athletes on the women’s side and three on the men’s have advanced to the finals in Eugene.
“I think we’ve had a really good first two days of the competition,” head coach Fred Harvey said. “The objective here is to move people on and get them to Eugene and so far we’re getting that done. There’s only one event that was really a devastating blow to us and that was Julie (Labonté) not making it through in the women’s discus. But overall, I think it’s been a great two days and we’re looking forward to tomorrow and getting it done.”
Redshirt freshman Jordan Young advanced to Eugene for the finals of the men’s hammer throw competition. His first toss of 204-6 (62.33m) was enough to cement in the top 12. However, his third throw of 205-2 (62.55m) was his best on the day and placed him in eighth overall. Five of his six attempts were about 200-0, a very consistent series for the freshman.
Senior Nick Ross cleared 7-1 (2.16m) in the men’s high jump competition, tying for first place overall. That clearance was good for a spot in the final in Eugene. It is the fourth time in his career he has made the final of the event at the NCAA Championships.
“Nick Ross continues to do what he does,” Harvey said. “I also think he’s going to have a big day tomorrow in the triple jump. Jordan Young, he’s been a kid all year long that I’ve had a lot of faith in him being able to throw. To have him in the finals in Eugene is big for our program.”
Senior Shapri Romero punched her ticket to Eugene for the women’s 400 meters. She clocked a time of 52.86, good for second place in heat one and seventh place overall. It is the first time she has made the semifinal of the event at the NCAA Championships. Romero also ran the 200-meter preliminary race and clocked a time of 23.57 (-0.8 wind). That time was good for third place in heat four and 14th overall. She will run in the quarterfinal on Saturday at 5:50 p.m. MST. On the men’s side, freshman Miles Parish clocked a time of 46.79, taking sixth in heat two and 18th overall, failing to advance.
“That race felt pretty controlled,” Romero said. “The goal was just to get in the top three advance. I wanted to win my heat but I didn’t’. I ran the race strategically. I’m so excited, I was in tears after my freshman year, my sophomore year wasn’t good and last year was another devastating year. To finally get it my senior year, I’m so excited. The only thing was find coach (Francesca) Green and hug her, I was so excited after that race. (In the 200 meters) I just wanted make to qualify for the next round, I was definitely feeling (the affects of) the 400. We were pretty lined up coming off the curve, I didn’t want to wait, I just wanted to solidify it when I had the chance and I just pressed to get home. That was good, I’m ready for that tomorrow.”
Sophomore Nnenya Hailey clocked a personal-best time of 56.99 in the 400-meter hurdles, good for first place in heat one and a trip to Eugene. Hailey’s time is No. 3 in UA history as well. She won the heat and clocked a personal best despite stumbling after the eighth hurdle and losing her a balance a bit. She rallied, maintained her composure and finished the race strong. Sophomore Morgan Struble clocked a time of 60.01 and finished in 23rd place overall. It is the third-straight year the Wildcats have had a representative in the semifinal of the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Championships.
“I was super excited,” Hailey said. “I was super nervous, whenever I start running I have one million things going through my mind but for some reason, when the gun goes off, they all go away. I’m super excited and I’m just ready to run. I finally broke 57 (seconds) and I’m just excited about that. (On Stumbling after eighth hurdle) Lead leg, trail, dominant leg, non-dominant leg, I’m still working on all of that. I probably should’ve taken another step but in my mind I told myself, ‘no, let’s just go.’ I messed up there but I know when I get my steps right and I run relaxed, everything is going to fall into place and that time is going to drop dramatically.”
In the men’s 800 meters, freshman Collins Kibet clocked a personal-best time of 1:49.19, taking sixth place in heat one and 14th overall. The 12th-place finisher, the last man to advance, had a time of 1:49.10.
In the women’s 100-meter hurdles, sophomore Traci-Lynn Hicks’ time of 14.06 (-2.7 wind) was good for fifth place in heat one and 34th place overall. She did not advance to the quarterfinal. In the women’s 100 meters quarterfinal, senior Germe Poston clocked a time of 11.70 (-0.1 wind) taking seventh place in heat three and 18th overall. She will not advance. Poston also ran the 200-meter sprint preliminary round and clocked a time of 24.30 (-1.1 wind), taking 30th overall. She failed to advance.
Senior Julie Labonté took 20th place in the women’s discus competition, failing to advance to Eugene. She had a toss of 164-1 (50.02m) in her third round attempt. She fouled on her first two. Labonté suffered an injury during Friday’s shot put competition, where she advanced to Eugene with a fourth-place finish.
In the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, junior Kenji Bierig took 35th place overall with a time of 9:12.22, failing to advance. On the women’s side, junior Clea Formaz had a time of 10:25.34 and finished in 19th place overall, she did not advance.
For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat men’s and women’s track and field, visit ArizonaWildcats.com and follow @ArizonaTrack on Twitter. Live results will be available at flashresults.com.