By J. Ryan Casey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 7. 2005
The Arizona men's team opened the outdoor track and field season with a sense of optimism, something that was reassured by Trackwire.com Tuesday. The men are ranked third behind Arkansas and Florida in the first poll of the outdoor season provided by Trackwire 25. In-state rival ASU sits in fourth behind the Wildcats.
"On the men's side, the strongest aspect is our overall team strength," Arizona head coach Fred Harvey said. "I think our overall team strength, coupled with our flexibility, is huge (for team-score events)."
Five men 'Dandy'
Five members of the men's squad were ranked in the first edition of the Trackwire "Dandy Dozen" poll, which ranks the top 12 men in each individual event.
A trio of distance runners led off the rankings for the Wildcats. In the 5,000 meters, junior Robert Cheseret ranks first, where he is hoping to defend his national title.
"You think about (Cheseret), we can pick and choose (the events he runs)," Harvey said. "He can run anything from the 800 to the 10,000 meters at the Pac-10 Championships."
Teammate Obed Mutanya, a junior, ranks third behind Cheseret, who also holds the third spot in the 10,000 meters. Junior Jonah Maiyo is ranked No. 4 in the 1,500.
"From a national standpoint, our strongest area would have to be the distances right now," Harvey added.
The men's throwers also represented well for the Wildcats, as junior Sean Shields is ranked in both the shotput (fifth) and the discus (fourth). Sophomore Adam Kuehl ranks third in the discus.
Women in the mix
Although they went unranked as a team, the women's team boasted three individual rankings in the women's edition of Trackwire's Dandy Dozen. Just like their male counterparts, the throwers were a strong point for the women. Senior Ilona Rutjes and sophomore Rachael Varner rank fourth and tenth, respectively, in the discus.
The lone hurdler to be ranked from either squad is senior Sharifa Jones, who comes in at 10th in the
100-meter high hurdles.
Injuries have hit the women rather hard but Harvey said that once the women's team is fully healed, they can be ranked as well.
"With everyone getting healthy and getting strong right now, it's a big thing for us," he said.
Freshman sprinter Jeanine Dancy said that she feels going on the road this weekend will be beneficial toward her study habits.
"It's going to be helpful, because (at home) I always try to study, but I never do, so I won't have an excuse (on the road). I'll be stuck in a hotel," she said.
Like most students, the teams are anxiously awaiting the end of the semester.
"It's going to be very nice to not have to worry about (schoolwork as well as practice)," senior hurdler Chelsea Powell said.
While the schoolwork tends to add up, Powell said that Harvey is fairly accommodating.
"Coach Harvey's pretty good about, 'OK, you have a review session, come out (later),'" Powell said. "He's pretty good about working with us."