EUGENE, OR - The University of Arizona Wildcat men's and women's track and field teams began competition on Wednesday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. The is taking place from 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. Thursday'scompetition is set for a 10 a.m. MST start. Friday's schedule will commence at 4 p.m. Competition will begin on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The official attendance on Wednesday was 9,627.
"I think with the new format, we were a little uncertain what we were going to think about it but so far I definitely give it a passing grade," head coach Fred Harvey said. "It obviously gives you a chance to focus on that gender more. The first day of the NCAA Championships is in the books and I thought we did a very good job."
Redshirt junior Pau Tonnesen finished the first day of the decathlon with 4,230 points and sits in first place. That total after the first day is a school-record total. The previous best score in program history for the first day was 4,186, set by Derek Huff at the NCAA Championships in 1989. Huff went on to win the decathlon title at that meet. In second place is Maicel Uibo (Georgia, defending champion) with 4,209 points. Tonnesen will resume competition on Thursday at 10 a.m. MST in the 110-meter hurdles.
Tonnesen began the day with an all-conditions personal best in the 100 meters with a time of 11.11 (+3.2), which was good for 836 points. Then, Tonnesen set a personal-best mark in the long jump, scoring 932 points with a jump of 24-7 (7.49m, +1.8 wind). His jump was the second-best mark in the field. That mark is a decathlon single-event school record, beating Derek Huff's record of 24-2.25 (7.37m, wind-aided) set at the NCAA Championships in 1989. Tonnesen set a personal best in the shot put as well, going 49-9.25 (15.17m) and scoring 800 points. He had the best toss of all of the competitors. Tonnesen cleared 6-9.75 (2.08m) in the high jump; the second-best mark in the field was good for 878 points. In the final event of the day, Tonnesen posted a personal-best time of 50.68 in the 400-meter sprint and added 784 points to his total score.
Sophomore Collins Kibet advanced to the final of the men's 800 meters with his time of 1:47.11 in the semifinal. Kibet took fourth place in heat one of his race and was able to advance on time to the final. His time ended up being the fourth-best time overall among the eight athletes in the final. The final is set to take place at 5:50 p.m. MST on Friday.
"I'm very excited for Collins Kibet," Harvey said. "It's his first NCAA Championship and he's in the final of the 800 meters. He went out and ran hard, ran aggressive and he competed. He did really well and that's really exciting."
Redshirt sophomore Aaron Castle took 16th place in the men's shot put with a toss of 61-8.5 (18.81m). That was the third-best toss of his career and good for NCAA Second-Team All-America accolades. Last year, as a freshman, Castle earned All-America honorable mention honors.
The quartet of junior Blake Eichler, senior Pete Lauderdale II, sophomore Bryce Houston and sophomore Miles Parish took 20th place overall in the semifinal of the men's 4x400-meter relay. They clocked a time of 3:09.86 and failed to advance to the final. The quartet did earn NCAA Honorable Mention All-America accolades. It was the first time since 1981 that Arizona has had a men's 4x400-meter relay team at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.