March 12, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - It may not have come easily, but Arizona senior Liz Patterson claimed the second NCAA individual title of her career Friday afternoon at the Randal Tyson Center in Fayetteville, Ark., winning the high jump event with a best clearance of 1.93m (6-4).
Patterson gave everyone in attendance enough to keep them on their toes on the first day of competition at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships, missing attempts at 1.78m, 1.84m, and 1.87m before missing her first two attempts at 1.90m (6-2 3/4). On the flip side, Hawaii's Amber Kaufman had a clean slate all the way through 1.90m and looked nearly unstoppable to start the competition.
Patterson came through during gut-check time, however, clearing the bar at 1.90m on her third and final attempt and then going on to clear 1.93m on her very first attempt - only her third first attempt clearance of the competition to Kaufmann's six. Kaufmann missed all three attempts when it mattered most though, returning Patterson to the top of the podium for the first time since the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
The mark matches the second best of Patterson's career and was a season's best. Patterson entered the competition as the favorite, leading the nation with a best mark of 1.92m (6-3 1/2) and as a 2010 Bowerman Award watch list honoree. Patterson's victory also gives UA jumps and multis coach Sheldon Blockburger his fifth individual champion in the past six years.
Patterson's second national title gives UA athletes eight high jumping championships in their 30-year NCAA history, making it the most decorated event on the women's side.
Not to be forgotten in the mix is the performance of freshman Brigetta Barrett. Barrett bounced back from her MPSF Championship in the event where she defeated Patterson to take third place overall at the national meet with her best clearance on the day of 1.84m (6-0 1/2). In a sense, Friday's competition gave UA fans a chance to see the changing of the guard with Patterson in the senior year of one of the most impressive high jumping careers in Arizona history and Barrett just a freshman already making a splash on the national scene.