Eugene, Ore. – The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 12 men's and No. 23 women's track and field teams wrapped up competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The University of Oregon's Historic Hayward Field played host and had an announced attendance of 11,344 on Saturday (40,516 four-day total). Three Wildcats competed on Saturday and all three earned All-America accolades.
The men's team finished in seventh place overall with 23.5 points. Oregon won the competition with 88 points, Florida had 70 points in second, 41.5 points was good for Texas A&M in third place, LSU and USC tied for fifth fourth place with 29 points. On the women's side, Arizona score 10 points and tied for 22nd place overall. Texas A&M won with 75 points, Texas had 66 points in second, Oregon tallied 59 points in third, Florida scored 55 points in fourth and Georgia had 35 points in fifth.
Senior Lawi Lalang earned a runner-up finish in the men's 1,500-meter final with a time of 3:39.13 while the winner, Mac Fleet (Oregon) won with a time of 3:39.09. No man in collegiate history has ever won the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters at the same NCAA Championships. Lalang finishes his career as a Wildcat with eight NCAA Championships, two collegiate records (indoor mile and 5K) and five school records (indoor mile, 3K, 5K – outdoor 1,500m and 5K). Lalang also has the fastest time in collegiate history for the outdoor 5K, but it did not take place during the collegiate season so it is not the collegiate record. He was the 2014 Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year as well, getting it done in the classroom throughout his time at Arizona as well.
"(Still feeling the 5K from yesterday) For sure I was, just a little bit," Lalang said. "No surprises from Mac Fleet, he was predictable and I knew it would come down to the last 80 meters. The last five meters I thought it could be anybody, when we crossed the line I said to myself, let's see the screen. It's really great to come here and do what I did this weekend. I came here without a lot of expectations, I told myself I would do my best and whatever it gets me, that's it. It's a nice way to finish my career. I'm really happy (with my career), there's nothing more I could ask for. I've done my best, I did all my races with everything I got, I have nothing to regret and I'm really happy."
In the women's shot put competition, senior Julie Labonté finished in fourth place overall with a toss of 56-8 (17.27m). It is the fourth-straight year (redshirted 2012) Labonté earned first-team All-America honors in the event, joining Meg Ritchie and Carla Garrett as the only three in UA history to ever do it. Labonté, a 2012 Olympian for Canada and the Canadian record holder in the event, won the 2011 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships in the event.
"It didn't feel too bad," Labonté said. "I was pretty consistent but I didn't have the big throw that I was hoping for to become the NCAA Champion. I ended up in fourth, so I'm pretty happy with that. Today I was fortunate enough to be able to glide, I've been dealing with an injury all year so to be able to glide today, that was kind of magic for me. I was able to get over that and mentally focus and compete well enough to get fourth. I've had so many great memories, my freshman year here I got fourth and now my senior year I got fourth too. My sophomore year I had that great, indoor and outdoor champion. I couldn't ask for more. I've had so much help from the trainers, my coach, Craig Carter, coach Harvey, they're all really great and I just want to thank them. I had so many great memories here (at Arizona)."
In the women's 5,000-meter race, redshirt junior Elvin Kibet finished in 14th place overall with a time of 16:20.30. It is the second-straight year (redshirted 2013) that Kibet has earned first-team All-America honors in the 10K and also earned second-team All-America honors in the 5K. It is the third-straight year the Wildcats have had an All-American in the women's 5,000-meter race.
"We had some historic performances out here this weekend," head coach Fred Harvey. "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 1,500m was really satisfying. He competed with the heart of a lion. Julie isn't 100% pleased with her performance but at the end of the day, she's fourth-best shot putter in the country. All-in-all, the core of this team and what we did here, you've seen how we fought, we were seventh on the men's side and 22nd on the women's side. We're continuing to be a top-10 program on either side and definitely a top-25 program on a year that we felt we were rebuilding a bit. We're looking forward to next year and the athletes we have coming in and returning, we're going to be a program to reckon with."