TUCSON –The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 5 men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete for the final time on an indoor track in 2014. The NCAA Indoor Championships will take place on March 14-15 in Albuquerque, N.M. The Wildcats are no strangers to the Albuquerque Convention Center; this will be their third time competing there this season. Friday’s competition will begin with the heptathlon at 10 a.m. MDT. The events on the track start at 6 p.m. on Friday while the general field events begin at 4 p.m. Saturday’s heptathlon starts at 11 a.m. while the field events commence at 3 p.m. Events on the track start at 6 p.m. At the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships, the men’s team tied for sixth place while the women tied for seventh place.
On the men’s side, Arizona will compete against No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Arkansas, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 6 Oregon and many others.
The women’s squad will compete against No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Texas and many other teams.
In the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) week seven poll, Arizona’s men sit at No. 5 in the country while the women are unranked. The men’s poll has four additional Pac-12 schools in the top-25. Oregon is No. 6, USC is No. 10, Colorado is No. 15 and Stanford is No. 16. On the women’s side, three Pac-12 teams are in the national poll, Oregon is second, Stanford is 14th and UCLA is 23rd.
For the men’s side, senior Lawi Lalang is set to compete in the mile, 3K and 5K. The preliminary round of the mile will begin at 6 p.m. MDT on Friday. The 5K is set to begin at 8:45 p.m. on Friday. The final of the mile is set to start at 6 p.m. on Saturday while the 3K begins at 7:55 p.m. Lalang, the seven-time NCAA Champion, has had another remarkable year for the Wildcats. He clocked the No. 1 time in the country for the 3,000-meter race at the UW Invite, clocking a time of 7:44.20. He set the collegiate record in the mile at the NYRR Millrose Games with a time of 3:52.88. Lalang won the MPSF Championship in the 5K with a time of 13:41.58, the No. 4 time in the country this year. But, Lalang also holds the collegiate record in that event as well. Lalang is the two-time defending NCAA Champion in the 3K. He is the defending NCAA Champion in the mile as well. In 2012, he claimed the NCAA title in the 5,000-meter.
Senior Nick Ross will represent Arizona in the men’s high jump competition at 4 p.m. on Friday. Ross won the 2012 NCAA Championship in the event and will look to win it for the second-straight year of competition. He redshirted the 2013 season. Ross’ school-record jump of 7-7 (2.31m) is the No. 1 mark in the country this year. Since the Wildcats’ first meet of the season in Flagstaff on January 17, Ross has had the collegiate-leading mark. He broke the school record that day in Flagstaff, clearing 7-6.5 (2.30m). The next meet, at the Cherry & Silver Invitational in Albuquerque, Ross broke the school record once more. He has won all four high jump competitions he has participated in this year, including the MPSF Championships.
Junior Jovon Cunningham will compete in the triple jump for the Wildcats at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It is Cunningham’s first trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships. He went to the NCAA Outdoor Championships his freshman year and earned second-team NCAA All-America honors. This year, his personal-best jump of 52-2.5 (15.91m) was good for the top mark in the MPSF and stands at No. 13 in the country. His mark is just off the school-record jump of 15.96m, set in 1984. Cunningham was unable to compete at the MPSF Championships.
Freshman Jordan Young will compete in the weight throw for Arizona at 4 p.m. After redshirting the 2013 season, Young has not disappointed in 2014. In his first meet of the season and his career at the Lumberjack Team Challenge, Young had a toss of 69-2 (21.10m) in the weight throw. He broke the school record with that mark. He went on to break two more times during the season. He threw 69-11.75 (21.33m) at the Cherry & Silver Invitational and then had a mark of 71-6.75 (21.81m) at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational. Young’s personal-best toss in Albuquerque at the Don Kirby Elite Invite is the No. 7 mark in the country this year.
Junior Pau Tonnesen, the junior college transfer, will represent Arizona in the heptathlon. Friday’s competition begins at 10 a.m. and Saturday’s commences at 11 a.m. Tonnesen has competed in three heptathlons during the 2014 season and has steadily improved each time. At the Cherry & Silver Invitational, Tonnesen posted a score of 5,190. He completed his second heptathlon at the Mountain T’s Invitational in Flagstaff with a score of 5,328 points. Tonnesen’s personal-best score of 5,589 points at the MPSF Championships was good for a second-place finish overall. That score is the 14th-best mark in the country this year.
On the women’s side, senior Shapri Romero will compete in the 400-meter sprint for the Wildcats. The preliminary round is set for 7:10 p.m. on Friday while the final begins at 6:50 p.m. on Saturday. All four of the 400-meter races Romero ran this season are the four-fastest times of her career. Her personal-best time of 52.82 is the No. 15 time in the country this year. That time was good for a first-place finish at The Armory Collegiate Invitational. She ran the second-best time of her career in the preliminary round of that same meet, 52.98. She had a time of 53.03 at the MPSF Championships, good for second place overall. She ran the 400-meter race at the Cherry & Silver Invitational in Albuquerque with a time of 53.11.
Sophomore Nnenya Hailey, a transfer from Clemson, will represent Arizona by competing in the 60-meter hurdles. The preliminary round is set for 6:45 p.m. on Friday and the final is set for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Hailey has been highly impressive in her first year as a Wildcat. Her personal-best time of 8.21 came at The Armory Collegiate Invitational, good for No. 15 in the country and is just off the school-record time of 8.17. At the meet in New York, Hailey had the fastest time in the preliminary round (8.29), semifinal (8.25) and final (8.21). The second-fastest time of her career came at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational in Albuquerque where she clocked a time of 8.23 in the preliminary round and final, both good for second place.
Senior Alyssa Hasslen will throw the shot put at 6 p.m. on Saturday for Arizona. Hasslen’s season-best mark of 56-4 (17.17m) was good for a first-place finish at the MPSF Championships. That throw is ranked seventh in the country and it marked her first individual title at the MPSF Championships. Hasslen has earned four first-place finishes on the year. She had a toss of 55-3.75 (16.86m) at the NAU Last Chance Meet and she also threw 55-2.25 (16.82m) at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational. At the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships, Hasslen earned a fourth-place finish in the shot put competition.
The USTFCCCA announced the winners of the regional awards for 2014 indoor track and field season. Lalang was named the 2014 USTFCCCA Men’s West Region Track Athlete of the Year for the third-straight season. Ross was named the 2014 USTFCCCA Men’s West Region Field Athlete of the Year. Assistant coach Sheldon Blockburger was named the 2014 USTFCCCA West Region Men’s Assistant coach of the Year.
The Wildcats have two men named to the 2014 The Bowerman Watch List. The latest update for the list came on March 5. Ross and Lalang were both on the list once again. It marks Lalang’s 19th time as a member, tying Florida’s Jeff Demps for the most by a man since the Watch List’s inception in 2010. The award is given to collegiate track and field’s most outstanding male and female athletes of the year.
The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships took place in Seattle on February 28 and March 1. The men’s team earned a fifth-place finish while the women’s team finished in third place overall. The Wildcats had four individual champions, senior Lawi Lalang won the men’s 5K with a time of 13:41.58, the No. 4 mark in the country. Senior Nick Ross won the men’s high jump competition with his clearance of 7-3 (2.21m). Freshman Jordan Young earned a first-place finish in the weight throw competition with a toss of 69-3.25 (21.11m). Senior Alyssa Hasslen was the lone champion for the women’s team, earning a first-place finish in the shot put with a season-best toss of 56-4 (17.17m).
Live results will be available at flashresults.com. ESPN3.com will have a broadcast of the meet on Friday beginning at 5:55 p.m. MDT. Saturday’s broadcast will start at 5:50 p.m. ESPNU will broadcast the meet on March 22 at 6:30 p.m. EDT. For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat men’s and women’s track and field, visit ArizonaWildcats.com and follow @ArizonaTrack on Twitter.