Arizona Track and Field
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Arizona Track and Field Patrick Finley: For Barrett, finale is leap of faith

UA senior trusts coach, adjusts steps to try to break her NCAA mark
2013-06-02T00:00:00Z Arizona Track and Field Patrick Finley: For Barrett, finale is leap of faithPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Brigetta Barrett graduated on a Friday last month and then flew to Los Angeles for the Pac-12 track and field championships.

The high jumper overslept that Saturday - like Jean-Paul, a runner in a 1995 "Seinfeld" episode - so she jogged to the field for her warm-up while trying to eat lunch.

As long as she wasn't disqualified for being late, she knew she'd make history.

Barrett wanted to do something special for her mom, Lottie, who'd flown from New York to watch her daughter graduate and continued on to L.A. for the meet. Barrett called her shot on Twitter days before, writing, "The high jump collegiate record is going down!!!"

Frazzled and running behind, she nonetheless cleared 6 feet, 6 1/4 inches to become the greatest female college high jumper ever.

"If there was a weekend where something had to happen," she said, "it was this one."

Barrett has won 24 straight college events and has one more Arizona Wildcats performance left - the NCAA track and field championships, which begin this week in Eugene, Ore.

And what does the reigning Olympic silver medalist have in mind for the finale?

"I plan," she said, "on breaking the collegiate record again."

Barrett will perform in her last college high jump event Saturday with a new approach. Coach Sheldon Blockburger suggested in the past few weeks she switch from a 12-step approach to a 10-step one.

It sounds ludicrous, like breaking the home run record and then choosing to switch bats.

And at times, it feels like that, too, but she trusts her coach.

"You know when you give a kid something and they don't know it's not theirs? And they get all attached?" the senior said. "I felt like someone took my teddy bear."

After the meet - maybe the UA's best chance ever to win a women's national title - Barrett, a two-time outdoor champ, will return home and turn pro. She'll sign a shoe deal, ink an agent and head overseas for some serious cash.

So will Georganne Moline, a senior ranked second in the NCAA's 400-meter hurdles. Moline became an international star at the London Olympics, finishing fifth in the 400 hurdles and all-but-guaranteeing a lucrative start to her pro career.

"My life is really different today than it was a year ago," said Moline, who finished second in the 400 hurdles Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic.

"The Olympics really changed my life and made me realize a lot about what I wanted out of track. Seeing I could make my way to the top."

It's hard to find a more star-studded roster than the 14 athletes - 12 women and two men - the Wildcats are bringing to Hayward Field.

There's Barrett and Moline, but also Julie Labonté, a Canadian Olympian - she has the rings tattooed on her right shoulder blade - who hopes to finish in the top four in the shot put and top eight in the discus.

Lawi Lalang, the nation's second-ranked 10,000-meter runner, will seek his first NCAA outdoor title, having won once in cross-country and four times indoors. He'll run the 5,000, too.

"Right now, the 5k and the 10k, it's really easy for me," he said.

Barrett and Moline have spent the past year getting used to international celebrity. Moline had to create a Twitter account to cancel out the creeps claiming to be her. She's still a bit surprised, though, when people recognize her or ask for autographs.

Barrett has had to explain to family and friends that she might not always have time for them. She's had to learn to say no.

"There's a lot more people asking of me," she said.

"I didn't realize how hard it would be to juggle everything."

There are rewards, though: Barrett gets messages from fans daily, cheering her on.

"Italy says hello," she said. "France misses you.

"'I miss you too.'"

Barrett will be back in Europe soon enough, a pro with a paycheck.

First, though, there's one last meet to win.

Up next

• What: NCAA outdoor track and field championships

• Where: Eugene, Ore.

• When: Wednesday-Saturday

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at pfinley@azstarnet.com or 573-4658. On Twitter @PatrickFinley

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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