Trio of UA women will have big upside at Olympic Games

Brigetta Barrett jumped over a bar well over six feet high, while Georganne Moline just cleared a bunch of 30-inch hurdles.  But their individual performances at the Olympic Trials last week earned both University of  Arizona track athletes a berth on the Team USA roster for the 2012 Olympic Games in London .

Barrett has been a dominant force in women’s field events, winning 17 straight collegiate competitions in the high jump, dating back to 2011.  Her second-place finish at the Trials put her on the USA Team, and her personal-best clearance of 6’7″ set a meet record and a school record.

First place in the event went to the U.S. record-holder, former Georgia Tech star Chaunte Lowe, who also cleared 6’7″, but was awarded the top spot because Barrett had missed on an attempt at 6’4 3/4″.

“Honestly, the goal coming in was top three,” Barrett said at a press conference after the event.  “So, to come in here and just let God use me and to be able to do what I did is still kind of surreal.  So I’m just happy.”

Barrett and Lowe were still a couple of inches away from Lowe’s 6’9″ record jump.

Barrett is the only college athlete to ever clear more than 6’6″, either during the season or in post-season competition, and has won consecutive Pac-12 titles as well.

A junior at Arizona, she won both the indoor and outdoor titles this season, just as she did the year before, making her the first woman in Division I history to earn dual-season titles in back-to-back years.

She is currently tied for the second-best mark in the world.

And just days ago she received word that she is a finalist for The Bowerman, the national award that is bestowed each year on the nation’s best college track athlete.

Moline is also a member of the talent-laden junior class, and also took second place in her event, the 400-meter hurdles.  She clocked a personal-best time of 54.33 to break her own school record at Arizona – the fourth time she has done that this season.

She had set the previous record just two days before, when she ran a 54.72 in the first heat.

“My goal was to set a personal-best today,” she said after the first heat, “so that, going into the finals, I had the mentality that I needed to win and get in the top three.”  Goal accomplished.

The 54.33 is the fourth-best time in Pac-10/Pac-12 history and ranks as the fifth-best time in the world this year.

A graduate of Thunderbird High School in Phoenix, the 5’9″ sprinter had to wait until the final day of the Trials, held in Eugene, Ore.  But she was ready for the finals and narrowly lost to Lashinda Demus, who ran a 53.98 time to win it.

A third athlete from the No. 10-ranked Wildcat program, Julie Labonte, also qualified for the Olympics in the shot put, but did so at the Canada Trials, which were held in Calgary, Alberta.  The native of Sainte-Justine, Quebec, will be representing Canada at the Games.

The junior redshirted the 2012 outdoor season, but finished in the nation’s top three at the Canada Nationals, earning her the invite to the Games.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics/ Errol Anderson)