Track Cats head to Oregon

Track Cats head to Oregon
Eugene, Ore. –

The University of Arizona Wildcat men's and women's track and field teams are sending a group of 11 student-athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. The meet will take place on June 10-13 at Oregon's Historic Hayward Field. This year, for the first time, the meet days are split by gender. Therefore, Wednesday and Friday will be the men's competition days while the women compete on Thursday and Saturday. However, both the decathlon and heptathlon will be contested on Wednesday and Thursday. Competition begins on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. MST. Thursday's competition is set for a 10 a.m. start. Friday's schedule will commence at 4 p.m. Competition will begin on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

In Eugene, 183 Division I institutions will be represented, 148 women's programs and 140 men's programs.

The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) released the week nine outdoor rankings on June 1. Arizona's men's team and women's team are not ranked. In the Pac-12 on the men's side, Oregon is second, USC is sixth and Stanford is 24th. For the women's side, the Pac-12 is represented in the rankings by Oregon in the No. 1 spot, USC at No. 5 and Stanford at No. 16.

Sophomore Collins Kibet will represent the Wildcats in the men's 800-meter race. The semifinal round is set for 5:54 p.m. on Wednesday. He enters the competition with the 17th-best time overall after running 1:48.14 at the NCAA West Preliminaries. His season-best time of 1:46.87 is the second-best time in UA history and on the year, is the 11th-best mark in the country. He earned a runner-up finish in the event at the Pac-12 Championships with a time of 1:47.06. He is the first Wildcat to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the event since James Eichberger in 2012.

For the first time since the 1981 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the UA will have a men's 4x400-meter relay team compete. The quartet of junior Blake Eichler, senior Pete Lauderdale II, sophomore Bryce Houston and sophomore Miles Parish have been consistent all year for the Wildcats, running under 3:08 on six different occasions. At the NCAA West Preliminaries, they broke the school record of 3:05.81, set on June 5, 1981. Arizona's time of 3:04.51 was good for a sixth-place finish overall. Entering the NCAA Championships, that time stands as the 10th-best time overall. They will run in the semifinal round on Wednesday at 7:28 p.m.

For the second-straight year, redshirt sophomore Aaron Castle will compete in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Castle squeezed into the field this year, taking the 12th and final qualifying spot from the NCAA West Preliminaries. His throw of 61-3 (18.67m) was better than the 13th-place mark by a single centimeter. Castle earned a fourth-place at the Pac-12 Championships this year and has a season-best toss of 62-3 (18.97m). In 2014, Castle earned honorable mention All-America accolades with his 22nd-place finish. Castle will throw on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Sophomore Gerard de Beer is the first discus thrower at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the Wildcats since Adam Kuehl in 2007. He enters the competition with the 18th-best toss after he threw 183-1 (55.82m) at the NCAA West Preliminaries where he took sixth place overall. His personal-best toss of 194-8 (59.34m) came at the UA-ASU Dual and that is the 15th-best mark in the country on the year. He won the Pac-12 Championship in the event with a mark of 193-8 and became the fourth conference champion in the event in program history. On Friday, de Beer will throw at 4:05 p.m.

Redshirt junior Pau Tonnesen is the first Wildcat to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the decathlon since Jake Arnold won the title in 2007. Arizona is tied for the second-most NCAA decathlon titles in collegiate history with four (89, 98, 06, 07). BYU leads with six.  Tonnesen enters the competition with the fifth-best score in the country at 7,823. That is also the fifth-best score in UA history in the event. Tonnesen is also in the UA record books with his high jump clearance of 6-11 (2.11m). That is tied for the best high jump clearance during a decathlon in UA history. Tonnesen became the third Wildcat (fifth title overall) to win the decathlon at the Pac-10/12 Championships. He also took third place in the open pole vault competition with a clearance of 17-4.5 (5.30m). That is the eighth-best clearance in school history. The decathlon will begin on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. and on Thursday at 10 a.m.

Senior Elvin Kibet will run her last race in a Wildcat uniform on Thursday at 6:38 p.m. She is one of the best distance runners in program history and will look to finish her collegiate career on a high note. Kibet already holds the UA record in the 5K and the No. 2 time in school history for the 10K. She earned a fourth-place finish in the 5K at the Pac-12 Championships and a third-place finish in the 10K. She clocked a time of 34:35.26 at the NCAA West Preliminaries, which is the 18th-best time overall entering the competition.  Her season-best time of 32:57.00 is the eighth-best time in the country this year.

For the fourth-straight year, Arizona will be represented in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Championships. In 2012 and 2013, Georganne Moline ran for the Wildcats and in 2014 and now 2015, junior Nnenya Hailey will represent for the Wildcats. Hailey took ninth place in 2014 and earned second-team NCAA All-America accolades. She missed a spot in the final race by one place. She enters the competition with 16th-best time at 57.60 at the NCAA West Preliminaries. Her personal-best time of 56.53 is No. 6 in the country on the year. That is also the second-best time in UA history, behind only Moline. That personal-best time was good for a third-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships.

The last time Arizona had a women's long jumper at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, it was none other than Brianna Glenn. Sophomore Aleah Hurst has ended the drought and she will long jump for the Wildcats on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. She enters the competition with the 14th-best mark, her all-conditions personal-best mark of 20-5 (6.22m, +2.7 wind). That is the third-best wind-aided mark in program history. Hurst entered the NCAA West Preliminaries with the 40th-best mark and left the competition in 10th place.

Places 1-8 earn first-team honors (medal, certificate, online recognition). Places 9-16 earn second-team honors (certificate, online recognition). All other places or participants (must compete at the final site) who do not earn a place are named honorable mention (online recognition).