The University of Arizona Wildcat men's and No. 5 women's track and field teams begin championship season with the Pac-12 Championships. The meet is being held at USC's Cromwell Field and Katherine B. Loker Stadium. The Wildcats claimed four individual titles on Saturday and the women sit in first place after the first day of competition.
The women lead with 60 points overall for the team competition. Arizona State is in second with 45 points. UCLA holds third place with 33 points. Stanford is in fourth with 32 points and Oregon is fifth with 30.50 points.
On the men's side, UCLA leads with 53.50 points. Oregon's 49.50 points are good for second place. Washington tallied 37 points and is in third place. Colorado has 34 points and sits in fourth place. Arizona State is in fifth place with 29 points. Arizona's men have 12 points and are tied for eighth place with USC.
Senior Brigetta Barrett won the women's high jump competition with a mark of 6-6.25 (1.99m). That mark is the collegiate record. Amy Acuff (UCLA), Destinee Hooker (Texas) and Kajsa Bergqvist (SMU) held the previous record with a jump of 6-6 (1.98m). Hooker tied the previous record in 2009. Barrett also set a stadium record, which was previously held by Acuff at 6-4.25 (1.94m). Barrett won her third-straight conference title. She is the third woman in Pac-10/12 history to win three conference titles in the high jump. Tanya Hughes of Arizona (1991, 1992, 1993) and Whitney Evans of Washington State (2001, 2002, 2003) also accomplished that feat. Arizona now has nine Pac-10/12 women's high jump titles in the conference history, which is the most by any school and four of the last five titles.
"Today was a great day," Barrett said. "God is awesome. It felt great and the weather was awesome. It's beautiful out here and the environment was great. I felt a lot like the Miami Heat, the first year they did not win the NBA title, but the next year they came back with unfinished business and when they did win the NBA title, they acted like they belonged there. Last year I broke the collegiate record but since I did not do it in a collegiate meet, it didn't count. I felt I deserved it but I had to wait for God's time. I learned that waiting for God's time is better than my time. I have to learn to balance excitement and focus. Sometimes I get so excited I lose the ability to focus."
Junior Julie Labonté won the women's shot put competition with a toss of 57-0.25 (17.38m). Labonté won her third conference title in shot put, she won in 2011 prior to redshirting the 2012 outdoor season and she won in 2010. Labonté is the fifth woman in Pac-10/12 history to win three conference titles in the shot put. Senior Alyssa Hasslen took second place after throwing 55-9.75 (17.01m). It is the third-straight year Hasslen has earned a runner-up finish. She earned all-conference honors all four years. Sophomore Baillie Gibson's mark of 53-10.5 (16.42m) was good for fourth place. It is the second time Gibson has earned all-conference accolades in the event. Junior Omotayo Talabi grabbed seventh place with a toss of 51-9 (15.77m). It's the third time in her career that Talabi has earned All-Pac-10/12 honors in the shot put. The quartet added 24 points to the women's total.
Gibson also scored for the Wildcats in the women's hammer throw with a personal-best toss of 208-11 (63.68m). That mark is No. 2 in school history; she just missed the school-record mark of 63.78m. Gibson's fifth-place finish was good for four points. It is the second time she has earned all-conference honors in the event. Senior Taylor Freeman finished ninth place and also posted a personal-best mark of 195-5 (59.56m). That throw is No. 4 in school history. In the javelin, senior Asia Easley took fourth place with a mark of 148-7 (45.30m) and added five points. It is the third time Easley has earned all-conference honors in the javelin.
"It went pretty good," Labonté said. "I was really consistent, I had three throws over 17.30m; 17.31m, 17.37m and 17.38m. I was really happy about that. I'm really confident going into the discus tomorrow, I've never been in the top three at the conference championship so I'm going for that. I've always been fourth so that's the goal."
Senior Jen Bergman won the Pac-12 Championship in the 10,000-meter race with a time of 34:17.09. She earned runner-up finishes in the 10K the past two seasons but finally was victorious. She is the first Wildcat to win a Pac-10/12 title in the women's 10K since Brook Murphy in 1999. Bergman added 10 points to the women's team total. Sophomore Stephanie Bulder took fifth place with a time of 36:07.10. She added four points to the women's total and earned All-Pac-12 honors.
In the men's 10K, junior Lawi Lalang won the Pac-12 Championship in a time of 28:14.63. That time is No. 3 in UA history and No. 2 in the country this year. It is the first time Lalang has ever run 10,000 meters on the track. It is the third conference title of his career, his previous two came in the 1,500 meters. Arizona has now won the last three conference titles in the men's 10K, alumnus Stephen Sambu won in 2011 and 2010. Lalang also qualified for the final of the 1,500-meter race on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. He clocked a time of 3:41.87 in the preliminary round, the fastest time overall. He is also entered in the 5K that's set to begin at 4:40 p.m.
Sophomore Clea Formaz earned All-Pac-12 honors for the second-straight year in the 3,000-meter steeplechase after running 10:29.47. That time was good for eighth place and a point to the women's total. Freshmen Nicci Corbin and Kate Penney both advanced to the final of the 1,500-meter race. Corbin had the No. 9 qualifying time with a personal-best mark of 4:20.72. That time is No. 5 in UA history. Penney's personal-best time of 4:23.33 was the 10th-best time overall. Her previous personal best was 4:36.68. The final will take place on Sunday at 1:20 p.m.
In the women's 400-meter run, junior Shapri Romero clocked the second-best time in the preliminary round at 52.70. That time is the second-best mark of Romero's career. Romero is the lone Wildcat to advance to the final of the event, it will take place on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. Junior Tamara Pridgett ran 54.65, the No. 2 time of her career. In the men's 400-meter run, freshman Bernard Dickerson-Quinn's time of 47.03 was good for third place overall in the preliminary round and a spot in the final. Junior Sean Delfani also advanced to the final, claiming the final qualifying spot with a time of 47.42. The final will be on Sunday at 2:20 p.m.
Senior Georganne Moline clocked a time of 56.55 in the 400-meter hurdles. She advanced to the final on Sunday at 3:15 p.m. with the fastest preliminary time. Moline will look to defend her title in two events on Sunday. She won the 2012 title in the 400-meter hurdles and the anchored the 4x400-meter relay. Senior Clifton Leake also advanced to the final with a time of 51.65 That was the second-fastest time overall. The final will take place on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
In the men's 800-meter race, senior James Eichberger advanced to the final with a time of 1:50.47. That time was good for fifth place overall. He will run in the final on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Junior Germe Poston clocked a wind-aided time of 11.71 (+2.4) in the 100-meter dash. She earned the eighth and final qualifying spot for the final. The final will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. In the 100-meter hurdles, freshman Traci-Lynn Hicks clocked a personal-best time of 13.588 (-1.8 wind). That time was good for ninth place overall. In eighth place, Ke'Nya Hardge (Arizona State) had a time of 13.585 which was the final qualifying spot for the final. Poston also advanced to the final of the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.79 (+1.2 wind). That time was good for eighth overall among all the competitors in the preliminary round.
"The day went better than we expected," head coach Fred Harvey said. "I was hoping we could get to 57 points on the ladies side after day one and we ended up with 60 points, that's huge. Going into tomorrow (Sunday), it puts a lot of pressure on a school like Oregon to make sure they're not making any mistakes. It could be a battle right down to the very end. I'm really pleased with the way everyone performed. I'm excited as heck for everybody, we're right where we want to be on the men's and women's side and competing like Wildcats. I think it'll be a great Wildcat day tomorrow."
The field events start on Sunday at 9 a.m. and the running events begin at 1 p.m.
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