Track returns to Calif. to compete in Mt. SAC relays

By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Arizona track and field teams compete in the 46th annual Mt. SAC relays in Walnut, Calif., this week.

The men's decathlon and women's heptathlon will be held today and tomorrow at Azusa Pacific University. The main events, hosted by Mt. San Antonio College, get underway Friday and continue through Sunday.

As one of the year's premier events, the competition is expected to attract some of world's most elite athletes, including those who hope to compete in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

"(The Mt. SAC relays is) the largest relay invitational in the country," said UA head coach Fred Harvey. "You're going to have the best teams and individuals from literally around the country."

However, pinning down the competition will be difficult because it focuses more on individuals than teams.

"There is no one (competitor), in part because of the diversity of the meet," Harvey explained. "In the distance (events), you have schools like Arkansas, Colorado, Stanford and ourselves, along with your best elite runners in the world. A meet like this doesn't feature individual schools, but top-level athletes from around the world."

"(The Mt. SAC relays are) very competitive," said junior heptathlete Jessica Corkill. "This coming weekend will have a lot of great athletes from the elite (athletes) to the collegiate ones.

"(The competition is) up there. Out of all our competitions, it's going to be a very competitive one."

The Wildcats have had their share of success at this event. Last year, the Arizona teams produced four victories and 22 top-10 performances. Last year's winners include Kyle Goklish in the 10,000-meters, Seynabou Ndiaye in the 100-meter, Sharifa Jones in the 100-meter high hurdles and Rich Legarra in discus.

This year, 19 men and 11 women represent the Wildcats at the Mt. SAC relays including two of last year's winners (Goklish and Jones) and nine top-10 performers.

Harvey hopes last year's successes will motivate the Wildcats at this year's competition.

"Mentally, we're seeing people get a little more focused mentally on the (Pac-10 and NCAA Outdoor) Championships coming up," Harvey said. "We are starting to put together a number of high-level performances."

The Wildcats should also be encouraged by the fan support that accompanies a meet of this caliber.

"I would have to say this is a wonderful meet because we have an amazing turnout in terms of spectators," Corkill said. "As a track team, you usually don't get a full stadium."

As the end of the season approaches, Corkill said he believes the Wildcats are prepared for the Pac-10 Championships, which begin in early May.

"The team has been really supportive of each other," Corkill said. "Our coaches have really prepared us for the culmination of the season. Athletes are on the verge of breaking through and breaking their own records and getting qualifying marks for the Pac-10 (Championships)."

In the latest Trackwire 25 rankings, the Arizona women are tied for 14th with 15 points. The men aren't far behind, tied for 18th with 16 points.