Over the weekend, Julie Labonte showed why she was such a coveted recruit for the University of Arizona track & field program.
Labonte threw the shot put 55′ 2 1/4″ to win the event at the Jim Click Shoot-out at UofA’s Drachman Stadium. That toss moved her into third place on the UofA all-time list.
She already had the top mark in the country coming into the event.
And she’s just a freshman.
“We have, historically, some of the greatest throwers in the history of the NCAA,” said her track coach, Fred Harvey. “For her to be even mentioned in the same breath as them, it says a lot.”
The Wildcats had hoped their showing at the Jim Click would help them pole-vault into the national rankings. The pre-season Top 25 rankings, which were released last Thursday, excluded the Tucson school. However, the one in Tempe was not overlooked, as the Sun Devils’ men’s program was given a pre-season No. 9 ranking. The women were left off of both.
Labonte’s performance was just one of many good showings from the Wildcats’ women’s team last weekend, as they scored 155 points to win the team title against Nebraska, ranked No. 16 in the nation; California; Minnesota; and Kansas State.
Several results will also go down in the school’s history books in the top 10 in their events.
Reshirt freshman, Georganne Moline, won the 400m hurdles with a time of 59.80 to become the first UofA intermediate hurdler to go under a minute since Chelsea Powell did it in 2003. Her time is the eighth fastest in school history.
Moline also ran a leg of the 4x400m relay that ran away from the competition, finishing in 3:37.69 – six seconds ahead of the rest of the field. That time will also go into the school archives, ranked as the fourth fastest relay race.
Teammate Christina Rodgers, who won the 800m, ran the first leg of that 4×400 relay, turning in a split of 54.4 to give the team a big jump. She won the 800m in a time of 2:06.72, which is one of the fastest in the nation this year.
Other winners from the women’s side included Hannah Moen’s win in the steeplechase with a personal-best time of 10:28.20, and Brigtetta Barrett’s victory in the high jump. Her leap of 6’2 1/4″ was also a personal best, and probably one of the weekend’s best nationally.
The men had their most success in the field events, as Tomaz Bogovic won the hammer throw in 205’8″ and Korion Morris took the shot put with a personal-best heave of 59′ 6 3/4″. Morris also finished second in the discus.
Rounding out the men’s wins, redshirt sophomore, Abdi Hassan, won the 1,500m with a time of 3:47.85.
Arizona State was also well-represented in the multi-event portion of the Jim Click, sending two women to compete in the seven-event Heptathlon and three men to compete in the 10-event decathlon. The field included UofA, Colorado, Kansas State, and Notre Dame.
The women finished with scores that rank among the program’s all-time Top 10 and two of the men placed in the Top 8 to score team points.
Keia Pinnick placed fourth overall with a score of 5,017 and Samantha Henderson was right behind her, finishing in fifth with a 4,746 points.
Pinnick, who now ranks sixth all-time in ASU program history, was competing in her first heptathlon since posting a score of 5,052 to win the 2009 Illinois Prep Top Times Multi Event Championships in Chicago. Henderson, who posted the eighth-best mark all-time, ran for Mesa Community College before coming to ASU, where she was a two-time outdoor NJCAA All-American and had a pair of third-place finishes at the national meet.
In the decathlon, it was UofA’s Jake Arnold taking the first-place title with a score of 7,832. But ASU had two competitors in the top 10, as Jamie Sandys led the Sun Devils with a seventh-place finish overall, compiling 6,357 points. Teammate Austin Prince was right behind him with 6,309 for eighth place and Jeremy Marcinko rounded out the ASU performances, taking 11th place with 6,151 points.
This weekend, both schools will be taking part in the 31st Sun Angel Track Classic at ASU. The Sun Devils are getting pretty comfortable at Sun Angel Stadium; this will be the third week out of four that they have been at home.
Maybe, by the time the Classic is over, there will be more than one Arizona college in the Top 25.