There is likely no other state in the nation that was able to offer as much track & field competition as Arizona just did on a single weekend.
On one end of the state, Arizona State University hosted the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe that included a field of 20 colleges from 12 states and a separate competition that drew 56 high schools. On the other end of the I-10 freeway, the University of Arizona was running its own high-profile event, the Jim Click Shootout, that included six college programs from five different states.
Between the two, lots of personal bests were posted and national marks set. And that provides high-caliber competition for Arizona athletes at the midway point of the outdoor season, just six weeks before the Pac-12 Championships.
The Sun Angel Classic has become one of the top national events for college track & field, and growing steadily. This year, its 38th running, the three-day event drew 4,600 entries – more than doubling participation in just the last five years. In addition to the college competition, it now draws Olympians, Paralympic athletes, and even professionals who have elected to open their season at this event.
Going into the event, much of the attention from ASU fans was on graduate senior Garrett Starkey in the men’s pole vault and redshirt junior thrower Maggie Ewen, who was coming off two straight awards as Pac-12 Field Athlete of the Week.
Starkey cleared the bar with a 18’0″ vault that gives him the lead in the Pac-12 Conference and a position in the ASU record books as second all-time in that event. Ewen, who established the season’s top mark in the country for the discus (196’03”) two weeks ago, hit a new personal best in the shot put with a throw of 56 feet that earned her second place in the women’s Premiere event. Earlier, she had also set a new American collegiate record (238’06”) in the hammer throw during the first meet of the outdoor season.
Her teammate, Ashley Weber, rounded out the day’s shot put success by winning the women’s open event with a throw of 50’60.5″.
Joey Bryant also set a personal best in the high jump, clearing 7’0.25″ to put him in a tie for 18th place nationally.
The Jim Click also covered three days, with the multi events taking place on Thursday and Friday, and the rest of the events on Saturday. It turned out to be a big day in the field events, mixed with impressive relay and hurdle performances – a total of seven first-place wins.
Arizona swept the high jump competition, with Justice Summerset winning the men’s event with a leap of 7’2″ and Lisanne Hagens clearing 6’0.75″ in the women’s jump, which ties her for the collegiate lead this season and is also a top-five mark in the world this season.
Aaron Castle added a win in the men’s shot put (62’3″) and Erik Mensendiek won the javelin throw (223’5″).
The Cats also won the women’s 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles. Sage Watson clocked 56.12 to win the 400 and Tiana Bonds claimed the win in the 100 meters with a personal-best time of 13.77. Watson’s time qualifies as one of the top three marks in the country and ties for sixth place in the world.
Claire Green‘s time of 4:25.42 was good enough for first place in the 1,500-meter run, and the Cats won both the men’s and women’s 4×400 relay and the women’s 4×100 relay.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)