Two Arizona Wildcats earned first-team All-America honors Friday with Bailey Roth finishing fifth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and James Smith placing fifth in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Running in the lead pack almost the entire race, Roth finished the nearly two-mile race in 8:40.92. It was a sweet finish of his college career for Roth, who smiled to the crowd after the race in Austin, Texas.
Disappointed over his performance in last year’s NCAA final, Roth had considered skipping his final year of college eligibility.
Coach Fred Harvey said, “Bailey took a stance to be part of our program, and he showed today that he has an opportunity to run at the next level” in the professional track circuit.
Steven Fehy of Stanford won the steeplechase despite hitting the last hurdle and falling. He got up and finished in 8:38.46.
Smith capped off a brilliant freshman year by sprinting around the track in 49.72. In Wednesday’s preliminary heat, Smith had established a UA school record for the third straight meet. He came close to doing that a fourth time on Friday, running just a half-second slower than his record 49.67.
Quincy Hall of South Carolina captured the 400 hurdles in 48.48, about a second faster than Smith.
On Twitter, Harvey posted about Smith: “So proud of this 19-year-old young man! This was the fastest total race ever at the NCAA’s, and he was a player!”
The third Wildcat to compete Friday, high jumper Justice Summerset, cleared 7-1¾ but had three misses at 7-3. The junior from Tucson tied for 12th among the 24 jumpers and earned second-team All-America recognition. Going into the meet, he held the fourth highest jump in the NCAA, 7-4½.
Texas Tech took the men’s team title with 60 points, followed by Florida with 50, Houston 40, Georgia, 32 1/2 and Stanford 32.
Roth and Smith each scored four points for the Wildcats. Combined with the six from Jordan Geist’s third place finish in the shot put on Wednesday, the UA men finished with 14 points.
With all 21 events over and scored, the UA men finished in 22nd place. Among other Arizona schools, ASU tied for 46th with 4 points and NAU tied for 50th with 3.
The UA team took 10 men to Austin for the national finals. All but Roth will return next year.
The NCAA meet concludes Saturday with women athletes competing for national titles.
Arizona Junior Karla Teran will compete in the high jump. She currently is tied for the second-highest jump in the country at 6-2.