When the UA track and field teams journey to Flagstaff Saturday for their first meet of the spring season, state bragging rights will be on the line. The Wildcats will compete in a tri-meet with in-state rivals ASU and NAU.
"This meet is going to be a great opportunity to see where we are at as a team," said head coach Fred Harvey. "The meet is really more of a chance to get our feet wet."
Both the men's and women's teams come into the meet ranked, No. 15 and No. 17 respectively, looking to establish state dominance.
Harvey said he is using the meet to gauge how he thinks the team will perform for the rest of the season. He thinks that the men's team is a good threat to make noise on the national level.
"We have very high expectations this season, because of our long training," Harvey said. "Getting to compete now is like the icing on the cake."
These expectations are nothing new on the men's side, with many of them resting on junior Robert Cheseret, who in June was named the Pacific10 Conference Men's Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Seniors Connie Jerz and Sharifa Jones anchor the women's team. Trackwire ranked Jerz No. 2 in pole vault, and Jones No. 5 in the 60-meter high-hurdles.
Harvey said the teams believe they are ready for the challenges ahead. He said he hopes that both teams end up being as good as he thinks they are.
"Hopefully we will do well," said junior Amber Steen. "For me it's a good chance to see where I am at for the season, to set a bar for the rest of the season."
Steen said the distance team is up for the new competition and eager to get the season started.
Harvey said he believes the rivalry among the three teams participating will give the Wildcats extra motivation to perform at their best.
This meet begins the team's 2005 indoor season, a 10-event slate that culminates in the Wildcat Classic March 15 in Tucson.
The Wildcats next compete Jan. 28-29 in the Athletics.com Invitational and Multi-Events in Boise, Idaho.