Men and women looking to bring home some hardware.
June 6, 2011
Complete NCAA Nationals Release
TUCSON– Titles will be on the line this week as the University of Arizona men’s and women’s track and field teams compete at the NCAA National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, beginning Wed., June 8.
The four-day competition features the top-24 athletes per event in the country, all of whom earned a bid to Drake Stadium by qualifying at the NCAA Preliminary Rounds two weekends ago. Sixteen UA student-athletes and one relay totaled 19 qualifications for this year’s competition with both the men’s and women’s squads looking to be in position to score a top-four finish and bring home some hardware in the process.
The No. 9 women’s and No. 12 men’s teams have posted one of the best all-around seasons in Arizona history, with both finishing second at the Pac-10 Championships a couple weeks ago and both being ranked in the top-10 at the same time for the first time since the 80s.
The women have been led all season by their depth in all event areas, but none more so than the throws. The Wildcats qualified three individual in the women’s shot put this weekend, headed by national leader Julie Labonte, who has not lost a shot put competition in 2011. Labonte set the Canadian outdoor record at the Pac-10 Championships and has been an absolute force the entire season. Teammates Alyssa Hasslen and Baillie Gibson have both gone over 17 meters in 2011 and could very well score some much-needed points towards the team total.
The women’s distance squad has also come on strong as the season has progressed with sophomore Jennifer Bergman earning qualifications in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters while Maggie Callahan and Hannah Moen have also both qualified in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
The men’s squad has stacked up it’s power in the distance events and the Kenyan tandem of Lawi Lalang (5,000 meters) and Stephen Sambu (10,000 meters) enter the weekend as perhaps the favorites to win their respective events. Throw in Abdi Hassan in the 1,500 meters who could score well if he continues to rise to the occasion as he has all season, and the Arizona men could be in position to defy the form charts and move into a top-five finish.
Events will begin Wednesday at Drake Stadium with Baillie Gibson leading off the competition for the Wildcats in the discus throw. Most athletes will have to compete in two rounds of competition in a semifinal and final format. A live blog of the competition and a complete recap of each days events will be available at arizonawildcats.com as the week goes on. A live video stream of events will be available at www.ncaa.com.