Austin, Texas - The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 6 men's and No. 8 women's track and field teams began competition at the preliminary round of the NCAA Track and Field Championships. The meet is held by the University of Texas at Mike A. Myers Stadium. In order to advance to the semifinal or final of an event, an athlete or relay team must finish in the top 12 of that event. The semifinals and finals will take place in Des Moines, Iowa on June 6-9.
Senior Stephen Sambu took third in the 10,000-meter race with a time of 30:04.59. With that time, Sambu will advance to the final of the 10K for the second-straight year. Sophomore Elvin Kibet and junior Jen Bergman both earned a place in the final of the 10,000-meter race. Kibet took eighth with a time of 34:09.81 while Bergman took 10th with a time of 34:19.15. Sophomore Bozidar Antunovic advanced to the finals of the men's shot put with a throw of 62-6 (19.05m). He earned a seventh-place finish in the event. This is the second-straight year Antunovic has earned a spot in the finals of the event.
"I feel good," Sambu said. "(For the upcoming 5K) I will just relax and sleep a lot. (Going into the championships) I feel really good, last year I was so tired but this year I feel good. I'm going to relax and do some speed-work before the final."
Sophomore Shapri Romero clocked a personal-best time of 53.48 in the women's 400-meter dash. That time was good for third place in the heat and ninth overall. She will advance to the quarterfinal at 6:15 p.m. CDT on Friday. Her time is also the sixth-best time in UA history. Senior Echos Blevins also advanced to the quarterfinal with a time of 53.97. She took first in her heat and 13th overall.
"It went really well," Romero said. "I wasn't thinking at all. My last couple meets haven't been too great because I had been over thinking so I just wanted to go in here and not really think but try to get the fun back into it. Obviously I got out well, the rest felt fine. I went with it; I had a good heat and a good group of women to run with so it felt really good. (Going into the quarterfinal) I feel pretty level-headed, anything can happen, I've witnessed that a lot this year. I'm not lacking confidence, I feel ready. I have mixed emotions, anxious, excited. I know I can make it to the national meet and I know what I have to do."
Junior Georganne Moline will advance to the quarterfinal with a time of 57.41 in the women's 400-meter hurdles. She won her heat and took second place overall. The quarterfinal will take place on Friday at 7:45 p.m. CDT. Junior Clifton Leake clocked a time of 52.32 in the men's 400-meter hurdles. His time was good for 23rd place overall and earned him a spot in the quarterfinal on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CDT.
Sophomore Lawi Lalang took fourth in his heat and 16th overall with a time of 3:55.03 in the men's 1,500-meter race. He will advance to the quarterfinal on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CDT. Junior Elizabeth Apgar earned fifth-place finish in her heat of the women's 1,500-meter race. Apgar's time of 4:26.27 will advance her to the quarterfinal on Saturday at 6:45 p.m. CDT. Junior James Eichberger advanced to the quarterfinal of the men's 800-meter race. He clocked a time of 1:49.06 in the preliminary race, good for second place in his heat. The quarterfinal will take place on Friday at 7 p.m. CDT.
"Overall, I think we had a very successful day," head coach Fred Harvey said. "The objective is always to get athletes to move on to the next round. We had a lot of good things that went well for us. James Eichberger ran the smartest race I think he has ran all year long which got him into the quarterfinal. Overall, it was a very good day and I'm looking forward to tomorrow and getting more people on to Iowa."
Junior Alyssa Hasslen fouled on all three throws in the women's shot put. Hasslen will not advance to the final of the event. She entered the competition with the second-best mark in the country but sustained an injury to her throwing hand earlier in the week.
Competition will resume on Friday with the field events beginning at 11 a.m. CDT and the running events starting at 5 p.m. Live results are available at http://www.texassports.com/livestats/c-track/.