The Arizona men’s and women’s track and field teams will head into the Pac-12 championships in two weeks with some nationally ranked individual athletes, but seemingly lacking the depth to compete with talent-rich Oregon and USC for team titles.
At Saturday’s Desert Heat Classic at Drachman Stadium, the Wildcat men dominated the hammer throw. Israel Oloyede (232 feet, 11 inches) and Jordan Geist (224-4) finished first and second.
Oloyede ranks fourth nationally in the hammer throw at 239-2 and Geist is sixth at 233-7. Geist, an All-American in the shot put, also ranks 11th in the event nationally at 65-¾. Geist had a busy Saturday, also ending up second in the shot put at 63-10½ and third in the discus at 182-3.
Freshman Johnnie Blockburger, a Tucson High graduate, captured the 400-meter dash late Saturday in the team’s regular-season finale. Strong wind gusts might have slightly slowed his time of 45.25 seconds. His best time of 44.71 ranks fifth in the nation and No. 1 in the conference.
Blockburger won Arizona high school sprint titles but few people, other than his coaches — Francesca Green and Fred Harvey — saw that school-record time of 44.71 coming.
UA track and field coach Harvey told Track and Field News, “There’s one moment that I really saw it coming. It may not mean much to anyone, but last year indoors in Albuquerque … he ran 21.9 and it looked like he was literally striding. Right then and there, I saw, Yeah, there it is. This is an exceptional talent.”
The other Wildcat male athlete in the nation’s top 20 is high jumper Justice Summerset, a senior from Mountain View High School. He finished third Saturday in 7-1¾, and his season’s best of 7-3 stands 11th nationally.
The women’s team features a trio of highly ranked high jumpers. Junior Lillian Lowe led a 1-2-3 sweep in the event on Saturday. Lowe cleared 6-1½, which ranks fifth in the country. Senior Karla Teran, who ranks eighth nationally, was second Saturday at 6-½. Alexa Porpaczy, 10th nationally, finished third at 5-8¾.
ASU transfer Samantha Noennig won her fourth meet Saturday in the shot put, heaving the iron ball 58-2. Her season’s best toss of 59-7½ now stands No. 3 after having led the nation most of the season. She’ll be a strong favorite to successfully defend her Pac-12 title.
Junior Shannon Meisberger, who ranks fourth nationally (56.61) in the 400-meter hurdles, ran 56.65 for second at the Desert Heat Classic. In the same race, UA alum Sage Watson ran 55.46, the world’s third best time, pending other weekend results.
Bringing strength to the women’s squad in the heptathlon is sophomore Sklar Sieben, who stands 20th nationally in the heptathlon with a score of 5,386. The only other UA first-place finisher Saturday was Keelah Barger, who took the 5,000 in 17:08.81.
Turner Washington of ASU leads the nation in both the shot put (69-1½) and the discus (217-5). He came close to both marks in winning the two events on Saturday. Washington, a Canyon del Oro High School graduate, transferred to ASU after his freshmen year as a Wildcat.
The meet drew athletes, but necessarily full teams, from ASU, NAU, UTEP, UNLV, Oregon, Oklahoma, New Mexico State, Utah Valley, Utah and Grand Canyon.
USC will host the Pac-12 championships on May 14-16.