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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Harvey marketing Arizona track and field as ‘Olympic Readiness Program’

The University of Arizona boasts one of the top-notch track and field programs in the country. This year alone, there are at least five current athletes preparing for the 2012 summer Olympic games in London.

“Here in Arizona, we focus on competing at the highest level on an individual basis both on and off the track,” head coach Fred Harvey said.

Harvey has been with the program for more than two decades and is in his 10th season as the head of the program. His key to success is having a strong staff to coach incoming elite athletes from all over the country.

“Arizona is a great place for me to be right now training and coaching,” said volunteer assistant coach and Olympian Bernard Lagat. “It pushes my own performance. Lawi (Lalang) is far ahead of where I was in college at his age.”

Lagat has personally taken on Lalang, a sophomore, as a student. Lalang is considered the No. 1 collegiate runner in the nation, holding the record time for the mile and is one of the top prospective Olympians of his generation.

“One of the biggest parts of the relationship is being honest with our athletes,” Harvey said. “Not everyone is at the Olympic level, but we do push success on every single individual to compete at the highest level.”

The goal of producing results under pressure is nothing new to the track and field program. The hiring process for coaches is centered on their ability to connect with the athletes and make a home for them in Arizona.

“The term student-athlete is used lightly in the college world,” Harvey said. “But as a coach, it’s not only my job to bring you to your highest potential as an athlete, but also to walk out of here with a degree.”

Throughout his head-coaching career, Harvey has shaped 22 men’s All-Americans, who earned 66 honors, and 20 women with 44 All-America honors. Six Wildcats have also earned 11 NCAA Individual Championships under Harvey.

“We have no limits,” Harvey said. “You can be walk-on and if you have the potential to become a Pac-12 Champion — we will get you there.”

With a handful of runners, sprinters, throwers and jumpers preparing for their biggest summer yet at the Olympic trials, the UA track and field has prided itself on being an “Olympic Readiness Program.”

The coaching staff faces the challenge of maintaining that level of success through the remainder of the season, which can last until mid-June.

“In my twenty years here, I haven’t seen anything like it,” said Harvey, “The level of competition is exciting for us and our athletes.”

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