Eugene, Ore. – The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 12 men's and No. 23 women's track and field teams completed the third day of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The University of Oregon's Historic Hayward Field is the host site, with Saturday being the final day of competition. The attendance on Friday evening at Hayward Field was 10,104 people. The Wildcats had only two student-athletes compete on Friday, seniors Nick Ross and Lawi Lalang, but both earned first-team All-America honors.
The men's 5K featured the past three NCAA Cross Country Champions, Lalang in 2011, Kennedy Kithuka (Texas Tech) in 2012 and Edward Cheserek (Oregon) in 2013. Lalang won the men's 5K at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the second-straight year. His time of 13:18.36 was good for a first-place finish and his eighth (1 cross country, four indoor, three outdoor) career NCAA title. That time is the third-best mark of Lalang's career but his fastest in a collegiate race. His other two fastest times came in races in Europe during the summer of 2013. Lalang's broke the NCAA meet record set by Sydney Maree (Villanova) on June 2, 1979, when he ran 13:20.63. Lalang passed former Wildcat Amy Skieresz for most NCAA Championships in Arizona history, both had seven prior to today. Skieresz had one cross country title, two indoor titles and four outdoor titles.
Per the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA), Lalang is the seventh man in Division I history to claim consecutive 5000 meters (or three-mile) titles outdoors, and the first since Chris Solinsky of Wisconsin in 2006 and 2007. Lalang's title is Arizona's sixth in the event, only Oregon and Washington State (8) has more. Lalang is the all-time (since at least 1982) career top scorer in the event with 34 points (2011 2nd; 2012 3rd; 2013 1st; 2014 1st).
Lalang will compete in the final of the men's 1,500-meter race on Saturday at 2:18 p.m. MST.
"It went the way we planned," Lalang said. "I wanted to run faster than that but the main goal was just to win the race so I'm glad I did it. I wanted to be able to burn the kick out of him (Cheserek) so I would be able to kick with him. I saw the way he was running (with 200 meters to go) and I was like, I'm going to do it. I knew it was going to go to the wire and I knew that I fought until the end. "
Ross tied for third place in the men's high jump competition with a clearance of 7-2.5 (2.20m). Ross was clean through 7-2.5 but failed to clear 7-4.5 (2.25m). Ross earned first-team All-America accolades in the men's high jump competition all four years of his career, the first Wildcat to ever accomplish that feat. Ross also accomplished that feat for his indoor career and was the first Wildcat to do that as well. He is the only NCAA High Jump Champion in UA history as well, winning the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championship.
"The competition started off well, I was over the first two bars fairly easily," Ross said. "I continued to make the third bar on my first attempt but my run started feeling a little tight, I wasn't relaxed. I still felt I should've got it (2.25m) on my third attempt. Overall, I can't complain, some days just aren't your day and today wasn't my day. 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 back to Tucson, practice and gear up for USA Championships."
Pic Courtesy: Arizona Athletics