Arizona colleges set national marks at Mt. SAC Relays

The Sun Devils and Wildcat track squads went into the weekend’s Mt. SAC Relays with top-20 national rankings for all four teams, and left California with school records, Olympic-qualifying performances, and some of the top collegiate marks in the country.

Arizona State‘s men’s team carried a No. 8 ranking into the 54th running of the prestigious national event; the women entered at No. 16.  For the University of Arizona, the women were ranked No. 13 and the men No. 14.

The Wildcats brought back four No. 1 national marks in the country, with Stephen Sambu starting things off on Friday by winning the men’s invitational 10,000-meter race with a time of 28:06.16.  The time is not only tops in the country right now, but second-best in the world – and second on the school all-time list.

On Saturday, the other three top national marks were recorded, as Georganne Moline won the 400-meter hurdles, Brigetta Barrett took first place in the high jump, and Alyssa Hasslen recorded a runner-up finish in the elite shot put.

Moline’s time of 55.25 broke her own school record of 56.02, set three weeks ago at the Jim Click Shootout.  The time meets the Olympic “A” standard and is also the No. 2 time in the world.  Barrett’s high jump of 6’4.75″ tied the top mark in the world, and Hasslen’s shot put throw of 60’2.5″ set the No. 2 mark in school history.

For Moline, the win was a mental lift as well; she had admitted to feeling insecure about her ability to compete at the level necessary for the conference championships next month.

“”I really just went out there and treated it like a practice,” she explains.  “I went out of my comfort zone a little bit and went for it, and ended up working in my favor.  I’m definitely confident going into the double dual (this weekend with NAU and ASU) and the Pac-12 Championships.”

Arizona State also built some confidence with the Mt. SAC, as the Sun Devils got a chance to see how they would perform away from home.  The trip to Walnut, Calif., was the first time this season they have traveled as a team after hosting the first four meets on the schedule.

The Devils opened the meet with a runner-up finish in the Open ‘A’ section of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, as senior Kauren Tarver posted a time of 10:23.38 to establish herself as No. 6 on the school’s all-time Top 10 list.

But the second day brought a bigger share of success, as Keia Pinnick won the 400-meter hurdles in the women’s open section, sophomore Shaylah Simpson just missed the ASU record in the pole vault by an inch, and Anna Jelmini‘s throw of 194’01” in the discus for fifth place set the top mark in the nation.

Pinnick’s time of 57.34 was a new career best, as was Simpson’s vault of 14’01.25″.

Chris Benard put a huge exclamation mark on ASU’s team effort on Saturday when he broke a 30-year-old record in the triple jump.  Benard’s leap of 54’11.25″ not only bested the old mark of 54’10.25″ but moved him into the national collegiate lead in the event and punched his ticket to the USA Olympic trials.

Jordan Clarke rounded out the Sun Devil honors with a runner-up finish in the shot put.   His throw of 64’10.5″ was a new outdoor personal best and improved on his national lead in the event.  He currently holds the No. 5 spot in NCAA history.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)