UA track: Wildcat throwers get final chance to compete at home

2014-05-23T00:00:00Z UA track: Wildcat throwers get final chance to compete at homeBy Zack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

When the calendar hits June 15, the UA track and field season will be officially over.

The roster will reset, clearing out the team’s 14 seniors, many of them prestigious, record-holding athletes.

Among them is Julia Labonte, a standout thrower.

Last week, Labonte, who hails from Quebec, won her fourth straight title in the shot put at the Pac-12 championships in Pullman, Washington.

In 2012, she was a Canadian Olympian, and in 2011, she won two NCAA championships — one outdoor, one indoor, both in shot put.

This weekend, she’s competing in her last event in the Old Pueblo — as a Wildcat, at least — in the Tucson Elite Classic, a field-only event that started on Thursday.

Her career will wrap up next week at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Then she’ll make way for the next wave of Wildcat standouts. At least in terms of throwing, the UA’s brightest futures lie with a few of its young men: redshirt freshmen Jordan Young and Aaron Castle and true freshman Gerhard De Beer.

“We’re a pretty close group of guys,” Castle said. “We’re all really young, all three of us. We all have a lot of potential. It’s exciting to see, and it’s a pretty good group to train with.”

They’re a group of big guys, too. Together, they are three of Arizona’s four tallest athletes this year — De Beer and Young are listed at 6 feet 7 inches tall, and Castle is 6-5.

They’ve made big contributions this season for the Wildcats, too, particularly last week at the Pac-12 championships, where they helped the Wildcat men finish in third place, behind Oregon and USC.

“When you look at everything, if you’re a top-five team in this conference, you’re doing something special,” UA coach Fred Harvey said.

The only place to go from here is up, then, right?

“I can see myself throwing a lot further as a senior than I am now,” Castle said. “I know Jordan and De Beer are nowhere close to their potential, too.”

Here’s a closer look at the trio of freshmen and what they’ve accomplished this season for the Wildcats.

Jordan Young

From: Windsor, Ontario

At the Pac-12 championships: Young placed third in the hammer throw, third in the shot put and eighth in the discus.

Notable: Young is the second freshman in UA history to earn All-Conference accolades in the hammer throw. He received honorable mention All-America honors in the weight throw in the indoor championships. In February, he unleashed a school-record toss in the weight throw with a heave of 71 feet, 6¾ inches. The mark ranks seventh nationally. Has won three hammer throw events in 2014.

He said it: “All year, shot put has been a struggle. To find my balance, when to hit the ball, and finally, these last couple weeks it’s been coming together at practice. Today, I was feeling it and it was great. It’s finally coming together.”

Aaron Castle

From: Newport, Washington

At the Pac-12 championships: Castle finished second in the shot put and 13th in discus.

Notable: His shot put throw of 62-½, recorded in February, ranks 22nd in the country. Castle finished in the top three in four shot put events this season.

He said it: “My outdoor season has been pretty gratifying. I haven’t thrown as far as I want to throw, but hopefully I can change that in the next meet or two.”

Gerhard De Beer

From: Pretoria, South Africa

At the Pac-12 championships: De Beer finished fourth in discus.

Notable: De Beer won the discus event at the Jim Click Shootout in April and finished in second place at the UA-ASU-NAU Double Dual meet.

De Beer is also a non-scholarship athlete for the UA football team. He’s listed as an offensive lineman.

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

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