The Arizona men’s track and field team enjoyed uniformly strong performances Saturday in Sacramento as it qualified four of its athletes and a four-man relay team for the June 5-8 NCAA championships.
The Wildcats qualified five men and their 4x100 relay team, and the women’s squad advanced four athletes for the national finals at the University of Texas, Austin.
Carlos Villarreal took over the lead in the third lap of the 1,500-meter run to finish first in his heat and first overall among 24 runners by stopping the clock at 3:39.67. Villarreal, who has one of the best finishing kicks in the country, moved up from fifth place to the front earlier in the race than his previous strategy.
The men’s 4x100 relay team qualified by dashing around the track in 39.45 seconds, its season’s best. The foursome of Trevor Volpe, Zakee Washington, PJ Austin and Maj Williams finished second in the heat and third overall behind Texas Tech and Oregon. Houston, one of the pre-race favorites dropped the baton and failed to qualify.
Junior high jumper Justice Summerset will return to the NCAA finals for the second time after clearing 7-1 for eighth place. Teammate Justin Lewis tied for 10th with a leap of 6-11 and just failed to advance.
Sophomore thrower Jordan Geist placed second in the shot put with a toss of 67-0. It was far short of his best throw this season — 70-10 — but the main task was to qualify. Adrian Piperi of Texas won the event in 68-4¼. North Dakota State’s Payton Otterdahl, who won the indoor shot put championship earlier this year, was third at 66-½.
In a race late Friday, Bailey Roth advanced for the fourth straight year in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He moved out to the lead midway in the race as the competitors jumped over the event’s 35 barriers. He ended up in second in his heat by running 8:39.78.
The UA women’s team suffered a setback early Saturday when its 4x100 team dropped the baton and failed to qualify.