Arizona track and field heads to Eugene for NCAA Championships
The track and field NCAA Championships start today and continue through Saturday in Eugene, Oreg., and Arizona’s No. 22 men’s and No. 6 women’s track teams will compete in a variety of events.
For seniors Georganne Moline and Brigetta Barrett, the championships will be their final meet as Wildcats.
“I keep thinking that I have to get ready for fall and my classes,” Moline said. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m done.’ I think it will hit me after nationals, I really think it will be an emotional meet for me, in a good way. It will be bittersweet.”
Moline is coming off of a second place finish in the 400-meter hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic, also in Eugene, this past weekend with a time of 54.75. She will be competing in the same event in the championship.
Barrett, who was named the West Regions Women’s Field Athlete of the year and the Pac-12 Woman of the Year, said she started to feel the impact of her career winding down when she walked across the stage for graduation.
Barrett was one of the first in her family to graduate from college and a few days later, she broke the collegiate women’s high jump record at the Pac-12 Championships in Los Angeles.
“It was just a culmination of everything I worked so hard for,” Barrett said.
Both seniors are coming into the championships with high expectations, especially after competing in the 2012 London Olympics. Moline participated in the 400-meter hurdles and finished fifth while Barrett earned a silver medal in the high jump.
“The Olympics really changed my life. It made me realize a lot about what I wanted out of track, and just seeing that I could make my way to the top,” Moline said. “I really found my passion, even more than what I had.”
After breaking the collegiate record for the women’s high jump last month, with a jump of 6-6.25 meters, Barrett said she has high expectations of herself in the championship.
“Oh, I plan on breaking the collegiate world record again,” Barrett said. “So anything above 6.6-25 [meters].”
Long roads traveled to the finals
While juniors Lawi Lalang and Julie Labonté hail from outside the United States, both enter the NCAA Championships in the same cardinal and navy uniforms.
Lalang, who was born in Kenya, will run in the 5,000-meter and the 10,000-meter races; while Labonté, who is from Canada, will be competing in shot put and discus.
With the end of the season approaching, Lalang said he has come a long way from where he was.
“I’ve learned a lot from last year,” Lalang said. “Last year, I was not in this kind of shape. It’s because I didn’t train as I did this year and it was a lesson to me.”
Labonté also competed in last year’s Olympics representing Canada. Though she didn’t come away with a medal, she said she learned a lot from the Olympics.
“You have to compete at a high level even though everyone is competing really well, you have a name to represent,” Labonté said. “So of course you just have to compete and hopefully the results will go with it.”