TUCSON - The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 5 men's and No. 10 women's track and field teams were spread out across the country on Saturday, competing in the second day of Husky Classic and the Boise State Team Challenge. Also, UA was represented at the Millrose Games and the USA Track and Field Classic. Overall, the Wildcats had a huge day, adding two more automatic qualifiers, winning nine events and setting 24 personal bests. The day was capped off by a collegiate and school record in the 5,000 meters.
At the Millrose Games in New York, volunteer assistant coach Bernard Lagat set the U.S. record in the 5,000-meter race and sophomore Lawi Lalang set the collegiate and school record. Lagat had a winning time of 13:07.15, replacing the previous U.S. record held by Galen Rupp (13:11.44), set in Birmingham, England on Feb. 19, 2011. Lalang came in second, clocking a time of 13:08.28, beating Galen Rupp's NCAA record of 13:18.12 set at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 13, 2009. Senior Stephen Sambu came in third and holds the No. 2 collegiate time ever, clocking a 13:13.74. Lalang and Sambu both automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in the event, as they currently rank No. 1 and No.2, respectively, in the NCAA.
"It was a great day for Arizona, that's for sure," associate head coach James Li said. "We planned a pace and it was a pace that they could all run together. We were very happy to stick with the plan we mapped out, and they executed to a tee, it was amazing. From their training and the way they have trained together the last few weeks, I knew all three were capable of running something like this. It was really no surprise to me at all what these guys can do."
At the Boise State Team Challenge junior Edgar Rivera-Morales punched his ticket to the NCAA Indoor Championships, automatically qualifying in the high jump after clearing 7-4.25 (2.24m). His mark is a personal-best clearance for Rivera-Morales, ties the best mark in the MPSF and is currently tied for the third-best mark in the country. Junior Nick Ross also cleared 7-4.25 (2.24m) on Saturday, tying River-Morales for first place in the event. Ross also won the triple jump, posting a mark of 50-4.5 (15.35m).
"Edgar and Nick jumped out of their minds today; they looked really good out there," head coach Fred Harvey said. "They both had good attempts at 7-5.75 (2.28m) as well. So we just need both of them to continue what they're doing and they should be in good shape for the NCAA Championship."
Junior Julie Labonté took first place in the women's shot put, throwing 57-9.75 (17.62m). Junior Omotayo Talabi threw a personal-best mark of 49-2.5 (15.0m), good for third place. Junior Taylor Freeman posted a mark of 46-2.5 (14.08m), good for fourth place. Sophomore Bozidar Antunovic set a personal best in the men's shot put, throwing 61-2.25 (18.83m) and earning a second-place finish.
In the women's 200-meter dash, the quartet of senior Echos Blevins, sophomore Shapri Romero, sophomore Tamara Pridgett and junior Shale' Garland all set personal bests. Blevins came in second, clocking a time of 24.10. Romero came in third with a time of 24.11, Pridgett earned a fourth-place finish with a time of 24.32 and Garland had a time of 24.48, good for sixth. Pridgett also had a personal best in the 60-meter dash, running 7.50 in the final and finishing in fourth place.
Additionally, the trio of Blevins, Romero and Garland each set personal bests in the 400 meters. Blevins won the race, running 54.29. Romero came in second place with a time of 54.42 and Garland came in third, clocking a time of 54.82.
"Across the country, we had a great overall day at all the sites," Harvey said. "Having that many personal bests at this time of the year makes me feel really good about what we're doing and where we're at right now. Chris (McSwain) had a really good day; he had a season-best time by a substantial amount in the 200 meters, so we're really excited about that. Also, the ladies in the 200 and 400 meters were on fire today and that was really great for them."
UA will return to the track on Feb. 24 for the MPSF Championships, held at Dempsey Indoor in Seattle, Wash. For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat men's and women's track and field, visit ArizonaWildcats.com.