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Morales-Rivera jumps into spotlight at UA track meet

Zach Lloyd (left), and his wife, Nicole Lloyd,  throw the shot put for the University of Arizona.

Zach Lloyd (left), and his wife, Nicole Lloyd, throw the shot put for the University of Arizona.

Luis Morales-Rivera continues to soar for the University of Arizona.

The junior from Agua Prieta, Mexico, had a personal best in the long jump and won the triple jump easily in the annual Jim Click Shootout at Roy P. Drachman Stadium on Saturday.

He was one of nine Wildcat athletes who secured 16 NCAA regional outdoor qualifications. A total of 26 men and women earned career bests.

Rivera-Morales has displayed the spirit of one who strives for the highest.

It was no surprise that his personal best long jump leap of 25 feet, 6 1/4 inches missed the mark in his mind.

“Not as good as I can do,” he said. I really expect more.”

He posted a jump of 50-1 in the triple jump Saturday.

How does Rivera-Morales get ready for his events?

“I try to visualize,” he said. “Before the jump, the night before I see in my head the start, the approach and how I land. I look at the good things that can happen.”

Zach Lloyd came a few centimeters short of 20 meters in the shot put.

Like his wife, shot putter Nicole Lloyd, shot putter Megan Howard, high jumper Liz Patterson and pole vaulter Gabriella Declos, Zach Lloyd competed Saturday fresh from All-American honors at last month’s NCAA Indoor Championships.

“The transition (from outdoor) has been good,” said Lloyd, who heaved a winning 63 feet, 9 inches (19.43 meters) Saturday.

Patterson missed three times to clear 6-2 and if she was bothered, she didn’t show it.

Likewise for Declos, who missed her chances at 14 feet (career best 13-11 1/4).

She missed last season with a foot stress fracture.

Declos was a 5-foot-11 gymnast, tall for the sport, but gave it up after a knee injury.

Used to an up-in-the-air kind of life, the pole vault filled the gap.

“It took me two months to learn how to use the pole,” she said. “I’ll never forget the first time it took me up. What a feeling. Amazing.”

UA women’s golf

Arizona sophomore Alejandra Llaneza shot a season-best 67 Saturday to lead the Wildcats to a seventh-place finish in the PING/ASU Invitational in Tempe.

Llaneza finished at par 216 to tie for fifth among individuals.

UA gymnastics

The Arizona gymnastics team closed its season with a fourth-place finish in the South Central Regional on Saturday night in Fayetteville, Ark.

UA scored 194.350 as junior Sarah Tomczyk earned a place in the national meet by finishing first in the floor exercise.

The Wildcats failed to move on to the team national meet because they did not finish in the top two.

It was the team’s 23rd straight appearance in the postseason.

Men’s tennis

The steam went out of the Wildcats’ effort Saturday after its upset win of Stanford on Friday.

California topped the host Wildcats 4-2.

No. 2 singles Andres Arango (6-1, 6-0) and No. 3 Andres Carrasco (6-4, 6-2) were the Arizona winners.

The Cats (17-3, 2-2 Pac-10) sustained their first loss at home in 15 starts in their Robson Center regular-season home finale.

Women’s tennis

The Wildcats were blanked for the weekend, suffering 7-0 league losses to Stanford on Friday and Cal on Saturday on the road.

Arizona is 10-7 overall and 1-3 in the Pac-10. Only Sarah Landsman against Stanford was able to go three sets for UA.

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