Fayetteville, Ark. - The University of Arizona Wildcats No. 12 men's and No. 13 women's track and field teams opened the first day of competition at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday. The meet is being hosted by the University of Arkansas and held at Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. The Wildcats claimed one individual title on the day and advanced two athletes to finals of their events.
Senior Brigetta Barrett claimed her third-straight NCAA Indoor Championship in the women's high jump. She has now won the last five NCAA Championships in the event, three indoor and two outdoors. She won with a season-best clearance of 6-4.75 (1.95m). That mark is also the top collegiate mark in the country for the 2013 indoor season. Barrett is the first woman in collegiate history to claim three-consecutive high jump titles at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Arizona has claimed the last four high jump titles at the NCAA Indoor Championships; alumnus Liz Patterson was victorious in 2010. Barrett has now won 20-straight collegiate competitions.
"Three in-a-row, I've had a great collegiate career," Barrett said. "I've had the best college experience, in general, that I could have ever asked for. To win three, it definitely means a lot because I didn't realize how many people I inspire or how many people are watching me. To let them know that anything is possible... to be a living example of that is a great thing. I wanted it (the collegiate record) bad but God has a plan for me, it just gives me more fuel for outdoors. It was great to be able to pull it of but it's too bad I didn't get the record."
Senior Georganne Moline clocked a personal-best time of 52.21 in the 400-meter run, breaking her own school record for the third time this season. Her previous record was 52.27, which took place on February 8th in Albuquerque, N.M. Moline's time was the fourth-best time overall in the event, good for a spot in the final on Saturday at 6:40 p.m. CST.
"I was shaking," Moline said. "I'm always nervous but it was kind of more excitement, I wanted to see what I could do here. I made it on to the final so that is all that matters. Anything is possible; I'm definitely looking to drop my time quite a bit. It's my first NCAA Indoor Championships, so for me, that's where the nerves are coming from. But, I got it done when I needed to."
Senior Jen Bergman earned a tenth-place finish in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 15:56.35. That mark is the second-fastest time of her career. Bergman was competing in the first NCAA Indoor Championships of her career.
Junior Lawi Lalang posted a time of 3:58.52 in the preliminary round of the mile, good for first place in heat one and the fastest time overall. Lalang will compete in the final of the event at 6:10 p.m. CST on Saturday. He will also run the 3,000-meter race on Saturday at 7:55 p.m.
The Arizona women's squad sits in a tie with five other teams for fifth place with 10 points. Kansas is in first place with 20 points. UCF is in second place with 14 points. Arizona State and Michigan are tied for third with 13 points.
The UA men have yet to compete in a final. Arkansas leads after day one with 30 points. Texas Tech is second with 18 points. Wisconsin's tally of 15 points is good for third place. Florida is fourth with 14 points. Arizona State's total of 13 points places them in fifth place.
"The day went pretty much according to plan," head coach Fred Harvey said. "People are really stepping up at the championship meet and really getting it done. Brigetta (Barrett) winning another national title in the high jump is huge; it gives us 10 points going into tomorrow. Georganne (Moline) getting that fourth-fastest time (in the 400 meters) going into the final is huge because it puts her in a position to be able to score really well. Jen Bergman ran a really nice race, she was just out of scoring position but I'm still really proud of the way she performed. Lawi (Lalang) did a fabulous job today, he looked really comfortable getting the fastest seed time in the mile. We're in the right position, we have great point potential going into tomorrow. Today was a great day for the Wildcats and we're looking forward to getting another day under our belts tomorrow."
Competition will resume on Saturday with the field events starting at 2 p.m. CST and the track events will start at 6 p.m.