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No hurdles in Watson's way

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Elizabeth Nahl/Arizona Athletics

Senior Sage Watson competes in hurdling at the Track and Field NCAA tournament on June 10. 

Arizona’s track and field star Sage Watson left her mark on the University of Arizona after winning the NCAA Championship in women’s 400-meter hurdles Saturday, June 10. She posted a personal best time of 54.52 seconds.

Watson is the first Wildcat to win an NCAA Championship in the event since Robin Marks in 1981. 

“It feels amazing being a national champion because this was my final race of being a collegiate athlete, so to win my final race and come away as a national champion is an honor and really exciting,” Watson said. “I was really happy that I could do that for the UA.”

The senior knew what she needed to do in preparation for her last race as a Wildcat, and focused on being mentally and physically prepared.

“I prepared just like I would for any big championship meet,” Watson said. “Just making sure I was mentally ready and had a lot of good practice sessions, and understanding that if I did what I did all season that I would have a good shot at winning. So just making sure I kept my nerves intact and stayed focus on the game plan.” 

Watson came to the NCAA Championships, held at the historic Hayward Field in Eugene, OR, with a personal best of 55.01 in the event. It was also the best time in the country — until she beat it in the semifinals with a time of 54.88, advancing her to the final. 

Watson ran even faster in the final, finishing with a time of 54.52 seconds, the eight fastest time in the world.

Senior Sage Watson competes in hurdling at the Track and Field NCAA tournament on June 10. 

“During the race, coming home in the home stretch, I was just thinking to just go for it, and I was just racing away and when I crossed the finish line I think that is when I realized that I am a national champion and I saw my time,” Watson said. 

As Watson crossed the finish line, she threw her arms up in victory, ending her collegiate career in epic fashion: becoming an NCAA Champion.

The native Canadian, from Medicine Hat, Alberta, wasn’t always a Wildcat. She competed for Florida State from 2012 to 2015 before transferring to Arizona. As a Wildcat, Watson was able to accomplish her goals of being undefeated and shaping history in Arizona Athletics.

“It is a huge honor to leave my mark at the UA,” Watson said. “Every student athlete who comes here wants to leave their mark, and I believe everybody does in some way, but it is just a huge honor to win a national championship for the UA and give back all they’ve given to me as a student athlete.” 

Watson’s success hasn’t been limited to Arizona. She ran for her native country of Canada in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Watson competed in two events, including the 400-meter hurdles, where she placed 11th overall, and the 4x400-meter relay, where she finished just off the medal podium at fourth overall.

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“I think the Olympics helped me for sure because going to the Olympics is the highest level of competition that you can compete at,” she said. “So, having that experience, I was able to take that with me to the national championship — having that pressure on me and understanding what I had to do to win and run a good race.” 

Watson plans to turn professional and will use her major in marketing to promote herself as an athlete. Down the road, Watson says she considers having a career in sports marketing.

“In July I am going back to the Canadian trials and those are for the World Championships, which are in London at the 2012 Olympic stadium,” Watson said. “So, we have the World Championships this summer that hopefully I will be representing Team Canada in.”

Next year, Watson hopes to represent Canada in the Commonwealth Games, followed by the World Championships once again. As for her next appearance in the Olympics, Watson is hoping to rejoin the Canadian team in the 2020 Olympics Games.


Follow Syrena Tracy on Twitter.



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