Arizona’s track and field athletes flexed their muscles Friday in their indoor season opener with the strongest Wildcat of them all, Jordan Geist, quickly securing the No. 1 spot on the NCAA shot put list.
Geist heaved the 16-pound iron ball 66 feet 6 inches to win the shot put at the Friday Night Duels at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff. That puts him first nationally and third worldwide in the early stages of the indoor season. His best throw last year, 70-4, set an NCAA indoor freshman record.
“Overall, I’m really pleased with our athletes’ competitiveness,” UA coach Fred Harvey said. “We are doing some high-end training so the goal for this meet was not necessarily to set (personal records) but to be competitive and get some good marks.”
Harvey said Geist’s conditioning is far from peaking.
Both the men’s and women’s teams showed particular strength in the high jump, the 400-meter dash and in the 4x400-meter relays.
The Wildcats took the top four spots in the women’s 400 meters, with Tatum Waggoner at 54.42, followed by Diana Gajda at 55.38, Karolina Pahlitzsch at 56.24 and Shannon Meisberger at 56.84.
The women’s 4x400 relay quartet of Neysia Howard, Pahlitzsch, Waggoner and Gajda beat teams from Grand Canyon, ASU, Southern Utah and Cal State Los Angeles by 10 seconds and more.
The UA men grabbed the first three places in the 400-meter dash with Umajesty Williams at 47.06 seconds, Maksims Sincukovs at 48.25 and Daniel Egbo at 49.0.
Williams, Sincukovs and Egbo teamed up with freshman James Smith to capture the 4x400 in 3:12.72, more than 12 seconds faster than Grand Canyon.
High jumper Justice Summerset showed he’s looking for a big year by clearing 7 feet ½ inch for first place. Teammate Justin Lewis, also a 7-foot jumper, did not compete Friday.
UA women took three of the top four places in the high jump. Lillian Lowe, a transfer from the University of Hawaii, cleared 5 feet, 10¾ inches for first. Freshman Alexa Porpaczy took third at 5-8¾, edging Karla Teran, who was fourth at the same height.
Geist also placed second in the 35-pound weight throw at 62-8, and teammate Grayson Fleming was third at 62-2.
Arizona’s middle-distance and distance runners will open their seasons Jan. 18 and 19 at the University of Iowa. Harvey quipped: “We don’t like to bring them to 7,000 feet.”