UA TRACK

NCAA track and field championships: Cats take run at No. 1

Moline, Barrett help give UA 'best chance' for first national title
2013-06-05T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:17:42Z NCAA track and field championships: Cats take run at No. 1Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Georganne Moline stumbled over the eighth hurdle in last year's NCAA championships.

Until she fell, she'd been the favorite in the 400-meter hurdles.

"That was devastating for me, and for my coach, and for some of my teammates as well," she said.

One year and one Olympic berth later, the UA senior is the No. 2-ranked performer in her event entering the NCAA track and field championships, which start today at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Moline wants to exorcise some demons.

"I'm so ready," she said.

With a strong performance from Moline and her 11 teammates, the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats women's team could walk away with its first-ever NCAA team track title.

"I definitely think it's the best chance that we've had since I've been the head coach - the chance at a national title," UA coach Fred Harvey said.

The reason goes beyond Moline and star Brigetta Barrett - the college sport's best high jumper looking for her third straight outdoor national title - and even Olympian thrower Julie Labonté.

The key to topping No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 3 Florida and others lies in the performance of all of Arizona's 12 female athletes.

"We have a number of athletes in prime scoring positions," Harvey said. "That gives you a little security. As close as you can get to secure points in track and field, that's good.

"On a bad day, you're sure Barrett's going to score and Moline's going to score and Labonté's going to score.

"On a good day, you're expecting greatness.

"But it's going to come down to us getting points in the 5,000 meters with Nicci Corbin and Jen Bergman, and Bergman in the 10,000 meters. And others, too."

For the women who have already been adorned with individual honors - Barrett won the 2012 Olympic silver, Moline finished fifth in the 400-meter hurdles and Labonté competed for Canada in the Games - a team title is the one hurdle left.

"That would be icing on the cake," said Moline, a favorite to win an individual title. "That's something that's really close to my heart.…

"I want to leave the U of A knowing that I helped my team out, and I did something for myself."

So does Barrett, who's looking to win her third straight NCAA outdoor high jump title and has vowed to snap her own college record of 6 feet 6 1/4 inches.

"I've always wanted to know what it feels like to stand on the No. 1 podium as a team," she said. "To be the first ones to do it, I'm always fan of making history. We put our stamp on that.

"I'm really excited to be the 'Fabulous 12.'"

Labonté, a junior in the outdoor sport after redshirting last year, called the meet "a great opportunity" for the Wildcats.

The men's team is ranked No. 22, and features two participants - 5,000- and 10,000-meter star Lawi Lalang and senior Pac-12 champion high-jumper Edgar Rivera-Morales.

"I'm thinking about the 10K," Lalang said. "After I get done with the 10K, I'll think about the 5K."

Lalang has run only two 10,000-meter races outdoors. In his first - at the Pac-12 Championships - he posted a winning time of 28:14.63, the second-best in the nation this year. His second run, at the NCAA Prelims, was more than a minute-and-a-half slower but still good enough to win.

"That guy can give us 20 points and a couple records," Harvey said. "He's that fit and that good.

"At a national championship, you don't ever want to underestimate a competitor. But it's very, very difficult to see anyone on his best day truly compete with him, to the sense that they're going to beat him.

"Push him? I can see that. But beat him?"

The UA women hope the same can be said about them.

"We're just ready to compete," Labonté said. "Hopefully, we can get many points and win that title."

On StarNet: Catch any breaking Wildcats sports news throughout the summer at azstarnet.com/wildcats

Barrett named Pac-12's Best

UA senior Brigetta Barrett, the NCAA record-holder in the high jump and an Olympic silver medalist, was named the Pac-12 Woman of the Year on Tuesday and is now eligible to be the NCAA Woman of the Year.

She is the fifth Wildcat to win the Pac-12 student-athlete award, following swimmers Annie Chandler (2011), Justine Schluntz (2010), Lacey Nymeyer (2009) and Whitney Myers (2007).

Schluntz, Nymeyer and Myers also won the NCAA's top award, along with UA high jumper Tanya Jones in 1994.

Barrett graduated cum laude in May with a theater arts degree and will sing the national anthem Friday at the NCAA championships.

NCAA track and field championships Day-by-day schedule highlights for the UA Wildcats

• Today: Georganne Moline runs in the women's 400-meter hurdle semifinals, Jen Bergman vies in the 10,000-meter finals, and the women's 4x100 relay team runs in the semis.

• Thursday: Baillie Gibson, Alyssa Hasslen and Julie Labonté vie in the women's discus, UA runs in the women's 4x400 relay final, and Lawi Lalang vies in the men's 10,000.

• Friday: Pac-12 champion Edgar Rivera-Morales competes in the men's high jump. Bergman and Nicci Corbin also run in the women's 5,000 meters.

• Saturday: Brigetta Barrett competes in the women's high jump, Labonté and Hasslen vie in the women's shot put, and Lalang runs in the men's 5,000 meters.

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at pfinley@azstarnet.com or 573-4658. On Twitter @PatrickFinley

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

Latest Video

More videos

Coach Bill Dawson on assisting for Ollie Mayfield

Daniel Gaona and Bill Dawson talk about his days assisting Ollie Mayfield.


Follow Star Sports reporters

Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily