Track Cats Trek To Austin For NCAA West Preliminaries

Track Cats Trek To Austin For NCAA West Preliminaries
Austin, Texas –

The University of Arizona Wildcat men's and women's track and field teams are set to compete in the NCAA West Preliminaries on May 28-30 in Austin, Texas. The meet will take place at Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas. On Thursday, the field events begin at 10 a.m. MST while the track events start at 2:30 p.m. MST. Friday's field events start at 10 a.m. and the track events will begin at 3 p.m. On Saturday, the field events commence at 10 a.m. while the track events start at 4 p.m. The meet will determine who qualifies for the NCAA Championships on June 10-13 in Eugene, Ore.

Arizona will compete against the top teams in the west region, such as Texas A&M (M: 2, W: 9), Arkansas (M: 6, W: 2), Texas (M: 9, W: 7) and many others along with all the Pac-12 schools.

The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) released the week eight outdoor rankings on May 26. Arizona's men's team and women's team are not ranked. In the Pac-12 on the men's side, Oregon is fourth, USC is fifth and Stanford is 21st. For the women's side, the Pac-12 is represented in the rankings by USC who is No. 1 in the country; Oregon sits at the No. 4 spot and Stanford who is No. 14.

On Thursday for the field events, sophomore Gerhard de Beer throws the discus at 10 a.m. MST. Junior Pau Tonnesen will compete in the high jump at 4 p.m. MST. Also at 4 p.m., sophomores Aleah Hurst and Alyssa Thompson will long jump.

On the track on Thursday, juniors Nnenya Hailey and Morgan Struble will run the women's 400-meter hurdles preliminary round at 2:30 p.m. MST. At 5 p.m., sophomore Miles Parish will run the preliminary round of the men's 400-meter hurdles. Junior Kate Penney will run the women's 1,500-meter race preliminary at 5:30 p.m. MST. At 4:55 p.m. MST, freshman Tyrell Johnson is set to compete in the men's preliminary 100-meter sprint. Sophomore Jasper Gray will be joined by freshmen Tatum Waggoner and Diana Gajda in the women's 400 meters preliminary at 5:20 p.m. MST. At 5:45 p.m. MST, senior Pete Lauderdale II, junior Blake Eichler and sophomore Bryce Houston are entered to compete in the preliminary round of the men's 400 meters. In the men's 800 meters preliminary race at 8:35 p.m. MST, sophomore Collins Kibet will represent the Wildcats. For the women's 10K semifinal and a trip to Eugene on the line, seniors Elvin Kibet and senior Kristina Aubert will run at 7 p.m. MST.

For the field events on Friday, senior Daniel Whitham will throw the hammer at 12 p.m. MST. At 4 p.m. MST, sophomore Lisanne Hagens will compete in the women's high jump and sophomore Aaron Castle will compete in the men's shot put.

On the track on Saturday, junior Traci-Lynn Hicks will run in the preliminary round of the 100-meter hurdles at 3 p.m. MST.  Waggoner will also run the 200-meter sprint preliminary at 6 p.m. MST. Junior Molly Callahan will run the semifinal of the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at 6:50 p.m. MST. The rest of track events are quarterfinals, so should the competitors advance on Thursday, they will then run on Friday.

On Saturday, sophomore Jonny Giess is the lone field athlete and he will throw the javelin at 10 a.m. MST. In the women's 4x100-meter relay at 4 p.m. MST, the UA will run sophomore Bealoved Brown, Waggoner, Hicks and sophomore Rachel Johns. In the men's 4x100-meter relay at 4:15 p.m. MST, UA's quartet will consist of freshman Isaac Hing, Johnson, Eichler and freshman Ty Brandt. At 6:05 p.m. MST, Kibet will run the women's 5K. Senior Sam Macaluso will compete in the men's 5K at 8:45 p.m. MST. At 7:25 p.m. MST, Gray, Gajda, Waggoner and Hailey will run the women's 4x400-meter relay. For the men's 4x400-meter relay at 7:45 p.m. MST, UA will run Eichler, Lauderdale, Houston and Parish.

Tonnesen has already qualified for the NCAA Championships in Eugene in the men's decathlon. He currently holds the fifth-best score in the country and the 13th-best score in the world at 7,823.

At the Pac-12 Championships on May 16-17, the UA men earned a sixth-place finish while the women finished in ninth place. Arizona had a handful of athletes make it on the podium (top-three finish), Tyrell Johnson took third place in the 100-meter sprint. Collins Kibet earned a runner-up finish in the men's 800-meter race. The men's 4x400-meter relay took second place with the second-best time in UA history. Pau Tonnesen finished in third place in the men's pole vault with the eight-best clearance in program history. Elvin Kibet took third place in the women's 10K while Nnenya Hailey finished in third as well in the women's 400-meter hurdles.

Per the USTFCCCA website: A total of 96 student-athletes (48 East/48 West) in each individual event and 48 relay teams (24 East/24 West) will compete at the two Preliminary sites this weekend based on their schools' geographical location, a total that will be pared down to the final Eugene-bound 24 individuals and relay teams by sundown Saturday.

As a clarification, despite the fact that the prelims and finals take place nearly two weeks apart, they are technically part of the same meet. This means that event victories this weekend should not be counted in overall winning streaks based on event finals — the student-athletes or relay teams would simply be the top seed from their respective prelim at the finals site. However, marks and times recorded at the Prelims are not eligible for NCAA Championships records.

Most individual track events will run four rounds — two at the Prelims and two at the Finals — to whittle the overall field of 96 to the final 24. The steeplechase and the relays will all run one round at the Prelims sites to narrow the field to 24, and then two rounds at the finals site. The 5000 and 10,000 will run two total rounds, one at the two Prelims sites and the second at the Finals site. The number of rounds/participants in rounds varies by event, as does the criteria for advancement, and can be reviewed in detail in the Event by Event Brackets created by the USTFCCCA.

Field events will work in much the same way. The throws and horizontal jumps will each contest both a trials and finals round at both the NCAA Prelims and NCAA Finals, with three attempts for each round. The number of student-athletes who move on from the three-attempt trials to the three-attempt finals round differs between NCAA Prelims and NCAA Finals, and can be reviewed here. Two flights of the high jump and pole vault will be contested at each Prelims site, with one round to be contested at the NCAA Finals.

The decathlon and heptathlon will not be contested at the prelims. The participants for the NCAA Finals have already been determined.