By J. Ryan Casey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, March 11, 2005
Individual and team championships will be on the line this weekend when eight members of the Arizona track and field teams compete in the NCAA Indoor Championships today and tomorrow in Fayetteville, Ark.
The eight members, four from both the men's and women's teams, are the most the university has ever sent to the NCAAs. They will compete in a total of nine events.
Those qualified include junior distance runners Jonah Maiyo in the mile and junior Robert Cheseret in both the 3000m and 5000m runs.
Cheseret qualified for the mile as well, but Arizona head coach Fred Harvey said he decided to hold Cheseret out of the mile because he felt that it would harm his chances in the other two events.
"What (assistant coach James) Li and I had to do was sit down and see what the best double for Robert and the team was," Harvey said.
Junior thrower Sean Shields and sophomore decathlete Robert Arnold also qualified for the men's team.
Arnold is the first Wildcat to compete in the heptathlon, let alone make the NCAAs.
"A lot of things really don't phase (Arnold). Be it the national championships or the conference championship meet that we were at two weeks ago, his goal is to go into a meet and win," Harvey said.
On the women's side, senior pole-vaulter Connie Jerz qualified for the second straight year for the Wildcats. She earned a second place finish last year.
Senior Sharifa Jones qualified in the 60m hurdles with a provisional time of 8.25 seconds.
The Wildcat women sent two members in the shot put in senior Ilona Rutjes and freshman Megan Howard.
Harvey said he likes his team's chances in both the individual and the team-score competitions.
"I feel pretty good about all the athletes that are going in terms of their actual scoring potential," he said. "Each person is in a position to do very well, and the majority of them have experience at the national level."
The meet will feature a team-score competition in which the No. 8 men's team and the unranked women's team compete against universities from around the nation.
"Our goal was to come here to be a top-five team, and we feel that we definitely have that opportunity," Harvey said. "The national championships are the same as the NCAA basketball tournament. Sometimes a little bit of luck helps you."