Track and field runners Barrett, Lalang finish on top
Women's program earns runner-up award
The Arizona men’s and women’s track and field teams placed 10th and sixth respectively in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore. While neither team came away with a title, senior Brigetta Barrett and junior Lawi Lalang both secured their place in the history books.
Barrett carried with her the momentum from her record-breaking performance at the Pac-12 Championships to defend her NCAA title in the high jump. Barrett used a 10-step approach, as opposed to the 12-step she used to break the world record in Los Angeles, to win with a mark of 6-4.75 (1.95 meters) and win her sixth-straight NCAA Championship.
“I think her performance was absolutely stellar,” head coach Fred Harvey said.
Yet, Barrett’s first place finish, as well as the runner-up finish from senior Georganne Moline in the 400-meter hurdles, wasn’t enough to help the No. 6 Wildcats contend for the overall title. The women’s team tied for sixth with Stanford with 33 points.
Still Barrett finished off her Arizona career where she’s been the past three years — at the top of her sport.
“The goal is to become the best high jumper the world has ever seen,” Barrett said in a statement to Oregon’s athletic department. “I still have a lot of growing in different areas, but I’d like to be the World Champion.”
Barrett will be preparing for World Nationals now that her Wildcat career has concluded. She leaves behind a career that saw her win three consecutive indoor and outdoor titles as well as a world record.
Junior distance runner Lawi Lalang also found success in Eugene, winning both the 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter race, the only track athlete to win two NCAA individual titles at the championships.
“You have to marvel at the ability level, the physical standpoint of view and the mental standpoint of view,” Harvey said about Lalang winning two NCAA titles. “It’s absolutely fantastic.”
Like Barrett, Lalang also carried with him momentum from a Pac-12 Championship in the 10,000-meter race, but Lalang said in a press release that taking home both titles in Eugene was no easy task.
“It was kind of hard and I had to push it from the start,” Lalang said. “I’m not surprised nobody made a move because I knew it was not an easy pace and that’s why I wanted to push it like that.”
Aside from Lalang, only senior Edgar Rivera-Morales competed in the NCAA Championships, finishing eighth in the men’s high jump. Even with the two NCAA Championships from Lalang, the No. 22 Arizona men’s team finished with 20.5 points for 10th place.
“Across the board, looking at all the young ladies, what they did, I’m very proud of them,” Harvey said, “as well as Lawi winning two national titles.”
Junior Julie Labonté competed in Field events for the UA, finishing second in discus and fifth in the shot put. These two finishes sealed Labonté as a First Team All- American. Yet, one performance that Harvey said stood out to him was from freshman Nicci Corbin. Corbin, a distance runner, finished 14th in the 5,000-meter race.
“Our young freshman, Nicci Corbin, was just stellar,” Harvey said. “Her very first national championship, she goes and nails down a second team All- American performance.”
With the season now finished, Harvey is already planning on repeat performances next year for both the men’s and women’s team.
“We have a very special group of young men that we return and some that we’ve signed,” Harvey said about the chances of next year’s men’s team. “We think we have a team that should challenge to be a top five team.”
Despite Moline and Barrett’s absense, Harvey said the goals are still very high.
“We won’t have any of the same headliners, but the goal is to be a top 10 program nationally next year,” he said. “We feel challenging for a National Title just might be in the cards.”
Arizona women’s program earns second-place finish
While the NCAA Championships left only Barrett with a title, the team’s finish was good enough to secure a second-place overall for the Arizona women’s cross country and track and field program.
The UA finished behind Oregon for the Terry Crawford Women’s Division I Program of the Year Award, given out by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. It was Arizona women’s second runner-up finish in the last three years. The Ducks, on the other hand, have now wone five-straight titles.
“It’s such a great honor,” Harvey said. “They’ve worked hard and they earned it.”