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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Track has record-breaking week

Arizona track and field made history last week, when the women’s team finished fifth and the men’s team finished seventh at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships, held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.

The team broke an Arizona record by having the highest overall finish for two teams in one season. It was the second time both teams finished in the top 10 in the same year.  

The Wildcats also came home with two national champions, sophomores Brigetta Barrett in women’s high jump and Julie Labonté in shot put.

Last week’s jump of 1.86 meters (6-1 ¼), earned Barrett her second national title this season after winning the indoor title in March. But Barrett didn’t stop there, going on to clear 1.89 meters (6-2 1/4) before hitting the bar at 1.92m (6-3 1/2).

Unlike many athletes who live and breathe their sports, Barrett makes a conscious effort to do the opposite. She says that effort coupled with her work ethic is what sets her apart from her competition.

“”My dream is to do this, and do it to the best of my ability,”” Barrett said, who began her jumping career as a freshman in high school. “”When it comes down to it, it’s my determination and my ability to not make high jump my entire life.””

As many of her teammates and competitors know, Barrett is not only an athlete, but also a thespian. She’s a triple-threat theater major, who loves to sing, act and dance. She even sang during her final jumps last week, something Barrett said she’s known to do.

While Barrett said she takes pride in her sportsmanship, she couldn’t help but feel a twinge of remorse over the team not taking it all.

“”I was kind of happy,”” Barrett said. “”I was really proud of everybody, but I felt like we were so close to being in the top four, being on the podium as a team and coming home with a trophy. Everybody did amazing, so no one can really be mad about how they did, however, it’s kind of that bittersweet moment of being so close in the end.””

Like Barrett, Labonté, a Canadian shot putter won her second national title of the season last week with her throw of 18.31 meters. The win solidified her perfect season and was the eighth-best outdoor throw in NCAA history, not to mention her current ranking of 20th in the world.

Arizona totaled 10 first-team All-Americans throughout the four-day meet, another first in Arizona history.

Among those 10 were junior Abdi Hassan and freshman Lawi Lalang. Hassan placed third in the in the 1,500-meter run and Lalang came in second in the 5,000-meter run.

Junior Stephen Sambu, a championship favorite hailing from Kenya, earned an All-American honor for his third place finish in the 10,000-meter run.

Another recipient was first time All-American senior LaTisha Holden. Her last race as a Wildcat was also her best. Holden’s 100-meter hurdles time of 12.89 came in fourth place, earning her that All-American honor, Arizona’s first honor in the event, ever.

As a captain, Holden was pleased with her team’s results and most importantly, their growth.

“”We’re basically a family out here, because we spend so much time together,”” Holden said. “”This team has evolved and changed in a positive direction that’s undeniable. Our chemistry and our culture together are incredible, we thrive off each other’s energy and we’re motivating factors for each other.””

While it may have been Holden’s last race representing Arizona, she said it’s not the last of her career.  

“”It’s definitely not going to be my last race,”” Holden said. “”I plan on competing in the USA Championships this month, and I’m going to continue progressing and continue into a professional track and field career. I’m going to run to the best of my abilities and open up as many doors as I can. All I want to do is run.””

What’s next?

Several Wildcats have a couple of weeks to rest up before the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The meet will take place on June 23-26 in Eugene, Ore. The list of Arizona’s competing athletes has yet to be released.

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