UA track & field off to a good start at USA Championships

Brigetta Barrett will be in good company this afternoon, as she prepares to compete in the high jump for a chance to represent the United States later this summer at the IAAF World Championships in South Korea.

The sophomore at the University of Arizona is part of a contingent from the Tucson school that traveled to Eugene, Ore., to compete at the USA Track & Field Championships and earn a IAAF berth.  Most of the country’s top athletes are in Eugene, as the competition runs through Sunday.

Barrett is carrying impressive credentials into the competition, after winning both the indoor and outdoor NCAA titles in the high jump.  She posted a personal-best mark at the Pac-10 Conference Championships, clearing the bar at 6’04” to earn her first Pac-10 title.

But she will have to deal with a couple of other champions in the field of 16 today.  Chaunte Lowe is a four-time U.S. Outdoor champion and set the American record at the 2010 Championships.  And Epley Bullock is the 2011 U.S. indoor champion.

Since she was assigned the No. 5 spot in the rotation, Barrett will have to make her first jump ahead of the other two, so her mark will be a target for the others.

(*Update: Barrett cleared the best height of her college career, jumping 6’4 3/4″ to claim the national championship Friday night, bringing home the Wildcats’ first title in the women’s high jump.)

Arizona will also be well-represented in several other events, including the 800-meter run.  Christina Rodgers broke a 17-year-old school record in the event run by posting a time of 2:03.52 at the Pac-10 Championships.  She owned one of the top-five times in the country this season.

Rodgers finished in third place in her preliminary heat yesterday, clocking a 2:05.61, and will be competing in the semifinals today.  Four-time All-American, Nick Ross, will be competing in the event on the men’s side.

This will be an opportunity for Rodgers, a redshirt senior from Central High School in Phoenix, to make up for missing the NCAA Championships by failing to qualify at the West Preliminary Championships.

Another All-American making the trip is LaTisha Holden, a senior from California who set UofA records in the 60-meter hurdles and 100-meter hurdles.  She will represent Arizona in the 100 hurdles; she ran a 13.09 at the NCAA Championships to break the school record.

And Maggie Callahan will also be running the final race of her college career, competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, along with junior teammate, Hannah Moen.  Moen, from Flagstaff High School, holds the school record in the event, but Callahan climbed into second place by winning at the Pac-10 Championships in a time of 10:11.7.

Another sophomore, Alyssa Hasslen, put on a great performance yesterday in the shot put to meet the IAAF Championship ‘B’ qualifying standard.  She recorded a toss of 57’7 1/2″ to set a personal record and earn a fourth-place finish, which far exceeded the expectations of someone who entered the event as the No. 13 seed.

This year’s USA Championships are getting wider exposure than usual, as the event will be featured on three television networks that will provide six broadcasts spread over three days.

If you want to follow each day’s events more closely, a free webcast is available through RunnerSpace.com

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)