Dozens of AZ track athletes pack for NCAA nationals

Anyone who left the track early Saturday at the NCAA Preliminary Round West in Austin, Tex., probably won’t do it again.

They missed the most exciting event of the day – probably of all three days of the meet.  The University of Arizona 4×400 women’s relay team covered the distance in a blur, clocking a 3:33.40 time and shattering a school record that has stood for 26 years – by nearly three seconds!

It was the last event of the last day and earned the squad a ticket to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., in two weeks.

The old record of 3:36.22 was set by the 1984 All-America squad of Michelle Walsh, Janis Vetter, Nedrea Rodgers and Ruth Waithera.  The new record-holders, who had entered the meet with the 11th fastest time this season, includes Christina Rodgers, Echos Blevins, Deanna Sullivan, and Georganne Moline.

Meanwhile, the Arizona State 4×400 squad finished 13th in the event, which means they missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships by one place since only the top 12 in each event make the cut.

But the Sun Devils will take their 4×100 relay squad to Eugene.

ASU’s 4×100 team finished eighth overall with a time of 44.54 to earn an automatic berth at Eugene.  Their time was within .04 of equaling the best time for that event in school history.

Jasmine Chaney ran the anchor leg of that relay team that included Dominique’ Maloy, Kayla Sanchez, and Christabel Nettey.  That was after she posted qualifying times in both the 100m hurdles and the 400m hurdles.  Her time of  13.26 in the 100m event was a presonal best for her and placed her fifth on the school’s all-time list.

ASU is one of just four schools competing at the Championships that will have more than one entry in the intermediate hurdles, as Chaney is joined by Keia Pinnick.

The men also showed well for ASU in the relays.  The 4×400 relay team of Justin Kremer, Allante Battle, Donald Sanford, and Joel Phillip combined to run a 3:04.09, the fastest time of the season for the Sun Devils.

The Sun Devils will send 14 athletes to the national finals, nine in the individual events and two relay teams.  Of those, four of the individual qualifiers are men, plus the one relay team.

The entire field for ASU will include Battle (4×400), Brandon Bethke (5,000m), Jordan Clarke (shot put),  (4×400), Sanford (400m, 4×400),  Phillip (4×400), Zeke Van Patten (5,000m), Chaney (100mH, 400mH, 4x100m), Maloy (400m, 4×100), Nettey (4×100), Pinnick (400mH) and Sanchez (4×100).

Add to those Ryan Whiting and Jason Lewis, who will be competing in a laundry-list of field events.  Whiting qualified for the shot put and discus, while Lewis will be throwing the shot, discus, and hammer.

UofA will be represented in Eugene by 11 athletes and one relay team.

The Wildcats went to the NCAA West Preliminary with six high jumpers.  Five of those have advanced to the Championships.  Defending indoor national champion, Liz Patterson, and All-Americans, Brigetta Barrett and Jasmin Day, all cleared 5’11 1/4″ to earn a berth.  They will be joined in Eugene by Nick Ross and Edgar Rivera-Morales.

The rest of the UofA contingent, in addition to the women’s relay team and the high jumpers, will include: Julie Labonte (shot put), Alyssa Hasslen (discus), Christina Rodgers (800m), Georganne Moline (400m hurdles), and Hannah Moen (steeple).

The regional meets are not scored, but are used to qualify those who will participate in the national finals.  Team points, national titles, and All-America honors are all determined at the finals, which will run June 9-12.