Lawi Lalang secures eighth national championship
Senior Lawi Lalang won a record eighth national championship and led Arizona men’s track and field to a seventh place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Lalang won the men’s 5K at the Outdoor Championships for the second year in a row. He has won one national title in cross country, four in indoor track and three outdoors.
“It went the way we planned,” Lalang said in a press release. “I wanted to run faster than that but the main goal was just to win the race so I’m glad I did it.”
Lalang broke an NCAA meet record from 1979 and set the school record for national championships, passing former Wildcat distance runner Amy Skieresz. Lalang’s title is the UA’s sixth in the event, behind only Oregon and Washington State, which both have eight.
Arizona senior cross country and distance runner Lawi Lalang recieves a senior award on May 3 at Drachman Stadium. Lalang was named the 2014 Pac-12 Men's Track Athlete of the Year.
“I’m really happy [with my career], there’s nothing more I could ask for,” Lalang said. “I’ve done my best, I did all my races with everything I got, I have nothing to regret and I’m really happy.”
Lalang just missed a ninth championship, finishing second in the men’s 1,500-meter final in 3:39.13 while the winner, Oregon’s Mac Fleet, ran it in 3:39.09. Lalang was also named the 2014 Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year and the 2014 Pac-12 Men’s Track Athlete of the Year.
“We had some historic performances out here this weekend,” head coach Fred Harvey said in a press release. “Lawi in the 5K last night is a race that will go down in history and it was so great that it made ESPN’s top-10 plays. For him to come back and get second in the 1,500-meter was really satisfying. He competed with the heart of a lion.”
The Arizona men finished seventh with 23.5 points, while Oregon finished with 88 points. The women took 22nd with 10 points and Texas A&M won the title with 75 points.
Senior Nick Ross, who was named the 2014 Pac-12 Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, tied for third place in the men’s high jump competition with a leap of 7-2.5 (2.20m). Ross became the first Wildcat ever to be first-team All-American in the high jump all four years of his college career.
“Overall, I can’t complain, some days just aren’t your day and [Friday] wasn’t my day,” Ross said in a press release. “I’m happy, extremely happy [with my time at Arizona]. I’m blessed. This meet doesn’t define me in any way, shape or form. I’m just going to go back to Tucson, practice and gear up for USA Championships.”
Senior Julie Labonté took fourth in the women’s shot put, with a throw of 56-8 (17.27m). She earned first-team All-America accolades four times, becoming just the third UA woman to do so.
“I was pretty consistent but I didn’t have the big throw that I was hoping for to become the NCAA Champion,” Labonté said in a press release. “I ended up in fourth, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Redshirt junior Elvin Kibet finished fourth in the 10,000-meter race in 32:43.39, the second-best time of her career. She also took 14th in the 5,000-meter.
Freshman Aaron Castle finished 22nd in the shot put, earning honorable mention All-American accolades, the first Wildcat to do so as a freshman.
—Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520