FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arizona track and field teams concluded the indoor season on Saturday at the second day of the NCAA Indoor Championships. Each of the four Wildcats who competed on the day earned All-America honors, with one earning a pair of NCAA titles in the process.
On the men’s side, 12th-ranked Arizona tied with Oregon for sixth place with 22 points. In 2012, the men’s squad took third place. Arkansas won the meet with 74 points. Florida’s total of 59 points was good for second place. Wisconsin finished in third place with 33 points. Texas A&M’s 30 points were good for fourth place. Texas Tech tallied 28 points and took fifth place.
The 13th-ranked women’s team finished with 25 points, tying for seventh place with Arizona State. In 2012, the women earned a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Oregon won the title for the fourth-straight year, scoring 56 points. Kansas finish in second place with 44 points. LSU’s 43 points were good for third place. Arkansas finished in fourth place after scoring 42.50 points. UCF finished in fifth with 30 points.
“I’m extremely proud; we had a tremendous meet,” head coach Fred Harvey said. “To put it in perspective, there’s only three track and field programs in the entire country that were able to get both the men and women in the top 10, ourselves, Oregon and Arkansas.”
Junior Lawi Lalang won the NCAA title in the mile with a time of 3:54.74, the second-fastest time of his career and a meet record. Previously, the fastest mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships was 3:55.33, run by Kevin Sullivan of Michigan in 1995. Lalang is the first Wildcat in school history to claim an NCAA Indoor Championship in the men’s mile.
“I was surprised nobody went with me early on,” Lalang said. “I said to myself, ‘It doesn’t seem I’m running fast, but no one is around.’ With two laps it seemed I was going to take it, so I said, ‘Let me just go for it.’ The biggest thing for me to win was the mile — it’s a fast race and it’s good for me. It will help me prepare for the outdoor season.”
Lalang’s mile race started at 6:10 p.m. Central Time, and he returned to the track to defend his title in the 3K at 7:55 p.m. He set another meet record and claimed his second NCAA Indoor Championship, running 7:45.94, another meet record. Adam Goucher of Colorado who ran 7:46.03 in 1998 held the previous record. Lalang’s time is the third fastest of his career. Lalang claimed his fourth NCAA Indoor title; he won the 3K and 5K in 2012. He is the first to win the mile and 3K at the same championships since volunteer assistant coach Bernard Lagat, who ran at Washington State, in 1999.
“(Going into the 3K) I just thought, ‘Let me go out there and do my thing,’” Lalang said. “’If I’m going to win, let me win, if I’m not, let somebody beat me.’ I was really prepared, I’ve been training well and it was just a matter of going there and doing it. This year was much more difficult than last year.”
In the women’s shot put, senior Julie Labonté and junior Alyssa Hasslen both earned top-five finishes. Labonté posted a season-best mark of 57-5.75 (17.52m), good for third place overall. It is the third-straight year Labonté has earned NCAA Indoor All-America accolades. Hasslen’s toss of 57-3 (17.45m) was good for fourth place overall. That marks the first time Hasslen has earned All-America honors in her career. The duo combined to add 11 points to the women’s total.
Senior Georganne Moline broke her own school record yet again, clocking a personal-best time of 52.09 in the 400-meter run. Moline’s previous record was set on Friday, March 8 with a time of 52.21. Moline’s time was good for a fifth-place finish. It is the first time Moline has earned individual All-America honors in her career. She added four points to the women’s team score. Moline is the first Wildcat to be named an NCAA Indoor All-American in the women’s 400 meters since Carolyn Jackson in 2000.
“The goal is to win,” Moline said. “That’s what I definitely wanted but I ran a personal best so I cant complain. I got out pretty decent but you have to be first at the break, that’s where I made a little mistake. I’m so excited to get to the hurdles (in the outdoor season).”
Senior Edgar Rivera-Morales earned a seventh-place finish in the men’s high jump competition. He tied a personal best, school record and Mexican record with his clearance of 7-5 (2.26m). He previously jumped 7-5 in Fayetteville on January 26. It is the third-straight season Rivera-Morales has earned All-America honors.
“We did some things that were tremendous,” Harvey said. “We had no letdowns whatsoever, every athlete that we brought was either a national champion or an All-American. Jen Bergman finished in 10th place but she ran the second-fastest race of her life in the 5K.
“You have to be proud and excited about the direction that we continue to go with this program. Lawi’s performance was historic. Georganne continues to impress with her run in the 400 meters. The ladies in the shot put came here and had their best performances of the year. The coaches did an unbelievable job of bringing everything together, having people ready to perform at the time we needed to perform.
“Sixth- and seventh-place finishes for Arizona at the NCAA Indoor Championships, that’s a great day and great weekend to be a Wildcat.”