UA TRACK

Arizona Track and field: Despite losses, coach says future bright

2013-06-13T00:00:00Z Arizona Track and field: Despite losses, coach says future brightZack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Fred Harvey has never had a female duo more successful than Brigetta Barrett and Georganne Moline. Their Olympic appearances and success in both the Pac-12 and NCAA track and field championships back that up.

"We've had a number of people coming through," the Arizona Wildcats' longtime track and field coach said. "But honestly, as a collegian, you could argue that they're two top athletes that were in our program.

"From a credential point of view, we've never had athletes do that."

Barrett, a high jumper, won a silver medal at last summer's Olympics and set the collegiate high jump record earlier this year. On Saturday, she won her third straight NCAA outdoor title - sixth, if you count her success indoors. On Wednesday, Barrett was named the National Women's Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association.

Moline finished fifth at the Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles and took second at the NCAA championships, clocking the No. 3 time in collegiate history.

But as the NCAA championships ended, so did the UA careers of Barrett, Moline and Harvey's other seniors.

"I definitely have been able to watch the program grow from my freshman year to my senior year to a championship program," Barrett said. "I'm glad to say I've been a part of that. It's kind of sad knowing that the next time I compete there won't be A-R-I-Z-O-N-A across my chest."

But, there's still a bright future ahead for Arizona track and field, particularly for the men's team.

Here's why:

A new face

You won't get much argument from Harvey - Barrett was the face of Arizona track and field this season.

Distance runner Lawi Lalang appears ready to take over for her.

Lalang's list of accomplishments in his three years at Arizona is extensive, but here are some of the highlights: 2013 NCAA outdoor champion in the 5,000 and 10,000 and 2012 NCAA indoor champion in the 3,000 and 5,000. If that wasn't enough, he was the 2011 NCAA cross country champion.

"Absolutely," Harvey said. "You start taking a guy like that for granted because he just continues to win. The level that he is competing at right now is just unheard of in collegiate athletics. He's such a dominant figure out there.

"He is about to embark upon a year that will make his career equal to no other athlete that's ever competed."

Ross returns

Harvey said next year's men's team has the chance to be "one of, if not the, best teams we've ever had here at Arizona."

The return of jumper Nick Ross, who redshirted the 2012-13 season, will be key.

"He's one of our best leaders," Harvey said. "Getting him back will be huge."

Ross was the 2012 Pac-12 men's field athlete of the year after he won an NCAA indoor and Pac-12 outdoor title in the high jump. His win marked the UA's first-ever NCAA title in that event.

Women still solid

For the last few years, the women's team has routinely made a national impact - it was recently named the second-best program in voting for the program of the year award.

Even with the loss of Barrett, Moline and others, the team should be solid again next year.

Harvey labeled sprinter Shapri Romero, distance runner Nicci Corbin and thrower Julie Labonté as athletes to watch next year.

Harvey said, "On the women's side, our goal is to be a top-10 program at the national level."

Contact reporter Zack Rosenblatt at zrosenblatt@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @zackblatt

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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