UA, ASU share lead at NCAA track & field championships

They’ve just finished the first day of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, but Arizona and Arizona State are off to a great start.  The women’s teams at both Pac-10 schools have a share of the lead.

The only  two athletes representing the Wildcats on the first day of competition picked up All-America honors and scored all of the team’s 10 points to put them in a first-place tie with ASU, Duke, Northwestern State, and Southern Mississippi.

Baillie Gibson, the freshman from Wyoming who qualified for the nationals in both the discus and shot put, set three consecutive personal-best marks on the way to a fifth-place finish in the discus.  She came into the championship season ranked No. 15 in the country in the event, even though she had to settle for a third-place finish in the shot put at the Pac-10 Championships.

Her throw of 185’03” yesterday is the fourth-best mark in school history and earned her first All-America award.

Jennifer Bergman became the first distance runner at UofA since 1999 to earn All-America honors.  The sophomore from California did it in the final event of the first day, posting a 34:31.69 finish in the 10,000-meter run for a third-place finish.

She will also compete in the 5,000 meters.  At the Pac-10 Championships, she finished second in the 10,000m and third in the 5,000m.

The Cats still have a way to go before the four-day event is over, but they have plenty of depth to make a strong national run this year.  The team earned 19 qualifications to make the trip to Drake University for the finals, one of the largest contingents to the event in the past 10 years.

Both squads are ranked in the top 10 nationally, the women at No. 5 and the men at No. 9.

Meanwhile… the Sun Devils had seven in action yesterday, with Anna Jelmini leading the way.  The redshirt freshman, who had the top throw in the West Regional meet and holds the best mark in the nation this season, earned eight of the team’s 10 points with a second-place finish in the discus.  Her throw of 190’02” also earned her the All-America distinction.

ASU’s other two team points were provided by Christabel Nettey, a sophomore import from Canada who had four marks in the long jump that were over 20 feet enroute to a seventh-place finish.

And Jasmine Chaney, a local athlete who will be competing in four different events, ran a 56.08 time in the 400-meter hurdles to advance to the finals Friday night.  That time improved her old best mark of 56.61 and places the senior from McClintock High School in Tempe in the No. 2 spot on ASU’s all-time list for that event.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)