After three months of exhausting workouts, Arizona’s returning track All-Americans and new recruits alike finally get a crack at the competition.
The Wildcats will be divided into red, white and blue teams at Saturday’s annual All-Comers meet at Drachman Stadium. The meet is open to unattached athletes, and is free to attend.
Coach Fred Harvey said the intrasquad events will give the athletes “a chance to compete and talk smack to one another.” It also will enable competitors and coaches “to see where we’re at following the fall training programs.”
The Wildcats will open their indoor season on Jan. 11 at Northern Arizona. As a result, Saturday’s running events will mimic the distances typically run in indoor meets — a 60-meter dash, for example, will replace the 100 meters.
Heading the list of returning athletes is sophomore Jordan Geist. He set an NCAA indoor freshman record in the shot put last season with a heave of 70 feet, 4½ inches. He won both the shot and discus at the Pac-12 championships. He earned first-team All-American honors in the shot put, finishing fifth in both the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships. He was a second-team All American in the discus.
Latvian-born Maksims Sincukovs returns for his sophomore year after finishing third in the 400-meter hurdles at the Pac-12 championships. He earned All-American status by finishing seventh in the NCAA outdoor championships.
Carlos Villarreal, a Rio Rico High School graduate, completed a strong showing last month in the fall cross country season. Last March, he finished 13th in the mile run at the NCAA indoor championships, gaining second- team All-American honors. After an outstanding outdoor season, he fell short of qualifying for the NCAA championships.
Justice Summerset, a graduate of Mountain View High School, took All-American honors in the high jump in his freshman year with a third-place finish. As a sophomore last season, he placed third in the Pac-12 meet, but failed to qualify for the national outdoor meet.
The Wildcat coaches have high expectations for sophomore Umajesty Williams. He finished second in the 400-meter dash at the Pac-12 meet and anchored the UA’s champion 1,600-meter team, which also included returnees Sincukovs, Zakee Washington and Daniel Egbo.
On the women’s team, three of the four All-Americans from last year’s 1,600-meter relay team — Tatum Waggoner, Diana Gajda and Karolina Pahlitzsch — return. Waggoner ran the UA’s second-fastest 200 meters in the conference 400-meters event, finishing fourth.
Junior Karla Teran, of Nogales, Sonora, will try to duplicate or improve on her stellar freshman season. Teran won honorable mention All-American honors in the outdoor high jump. She placed third in the Pac-12 meet last season as a sophomore but did not qualify for the national meet.
In addition to the All-American athletes, the Wildcats have other strong performers on both the men’s and women’s teams who scored points in the Pac-12 meet.
The teams will be bolstered by what Harvey called a strong recruiting class of 20 freshmen and six transfers, including Keishawn Everly, the Texas 5-A high school champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
James Smith Jr., of Mesa, will join Sincukovs in the 400 hurdles event and become the newest outstanding hurdler to choose to be coached by Harvey.
And Justin Lewis, a transfer from Worchester State College, also joins the Wildcats after winning the NCAA Division III high jump with a leap of 7 feet 1¾ inches.
Among the freshmen joining the women’s team will be sprinter Neysia Howard from Tucson High, and Faimalie Sale, a shot put and discus thrower from Los Alamitos, California.