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 meet 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. Friday's schedule will commence at 4 p.m. Competition will begin on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The official attendance on Thursday was 10,015.
Tonnesen earned a runner-up finish in the decathlon place with 8,247 points, the best total in school history. Tonnesen beat Jake Arnold's record of 8,215 set on June 6-7, 2007 in Sacramento, Calif. His score was the top runner-up score in NCAA Championships history. Maicel Uibo (Georgia) won his second-straight title in the event with a score of 8,356. He also met the 2015 IAAF World Championships Standard (8,075) with his score. Tonnesen now has a chance to compete for Spain at the World Championships in Beijing, China on August 22-30. Furthermore, his score also meets the 2016 Olympics Games Standard (8,100) as well. The qualification period opened on May 1, 2015. The meet will take place on August 12-21, 2016.
"It was a lot of fun," Tonnesen said. "There was a lot of good guys and I couldn't be happier. I was focused, I took it one event at a time and I did my best. Every event turned out pretty well and I couldn't ask for more. I wasn't expecting to break the school record at all. I didn't even know I did it until after I finished the 1,500-meter race and my coach told me. I'm so excited, I really wanted to get it and I did it. So hopefully, if everything goes well, Spain will take me."
"Pau and his coach, Sheldon Blockburger, the work that they put in to get in this position, it was tremendous, " head coach Fred Harvey said. "To score that many points, break the school record here at the NCAA Championships. He had personal bests in seven of the ten events. You dream about those types of things. The most important thing is that he's one unbelievable competitor. Every single time in every single event he came in and nailed it. I'm really proud of the work he did. He fought right to the end and had a chance with the title. To end up second in his first NCAA Outdoor Championships, that's not bad at all."
He started the day with a personal-best time of 14.87 (+0.7 wind) in the 110-meter hurdles, good for 865 points to his total. Tonnesen added 778 points to his score with a toss of 149-4 (45.53m) in the discus competition. It wasn't a personal-best toss but it was the best throw he's had in the event during a decathlon. Tonnesen had quite the pole vault competition, clearing four-straight bars on his third attempt. He ended up scoring 1,004 points with his clearance of 17-4.5 (5.30m), which ties a personal best. Tonnesen attempted to clear 18-0.5 (5.50m), which would have been the meet record but he failed to do so. Entering the javelin competition, Tonnesen had a personal-best toss of 174-4. Today, he threw 188-8 (57.52m) and scored 701 points. Uibo overtook Tonnesen after that event, however, leading by 23 points heading into the final 1,500-meter race. Tonnesen set a personal best by over seven seconds in the 1,500-meter race, running 4:41.77 and scoring 669 points.
Senior Elvin Kibet, one of the best distance runners in program history, ended her UA career on Thursday evening. She took 13th place in the 10K with a time of 34:12.57. Kibet holds the school record in the 5K, the No. 2 time in UA history in the 10K and earned All-America accolades nine different times.
Junior Nnenya Hailey qualified for the final of the women's 400-meter hurdles with a time of 56.85. She finished in second place in heat two and fifth place overall. That was the third-best time of Hailey's career and she will run the final on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. MST. In 2014, Hailey finished in ninth place of the semifinal, missing the final by one spot.
Sophomore Aleah Hurst improved on each of her three tries in the women's long jump, with a best of 19-10.75 (6.06m, +3.1 wind). She took 18th place overall and earned NCAA Honorable Mention All-America accolades. She is the first Wildcat to earn All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the women's long jump since Brianna Glenn took sixth place in 2002.