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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cheseret could see three-peat

    Senior Robert Cheseret, in white, stands above the crowd at the start of yesterdays UA mens cross country practice on the squads practice course. Cheseret will be attempting to win his third straight Pacific 10 Conference cross country Athlete of the Year award this season to round out his collection, which already includes three Pac-10 track and field Athlete of the Year honors.
    Senior Robert Cheseret, in white, stands above the crowd at the start of yesterday’s UA men’s cross country practice on the squad’s practice course. Cheseret will be attempting to win his third straight Pacific 10 Conference cross country Athlete of the Year award this season to round out his collection, which already includes three Pac-10 track and field Athlete of the Year honors.

    Stooges. Musketeers. Little pigs. Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Pacific-10 Conference cross country Athlete of the Year.

    The best things come in threes.

    The Arizona men’s cross country team returns this season with senior All-American Robert Cheseret striving for the latter to come to him for the third year in a row after winning his third consecutive Pac-10 track and field Athlete of the Year award last spring.

    “”I definitely think he has a shot at a third year,”” said James Li, UA cross country head coach. “”Nothing is a guarantee, but I think he is motivated enough, and he is certainly capable of being the best runner in the conference again.””

    The team captain said he is confident, but at the same time feels some pressure.

    “”I would like to repeat the same (feat) this year,”” said Cheseret, who will miss the first two meets of the season to save himself after running into June with the track and field team. “”I know if I do well, I should get the same award. And if I do well, it’s going to be good for the team, so I think that there is some (pressure) there too.””

    But his goals are not limited to this season alone. Cheseret hopes to run professionally in the future.

    “”I think he is definitely good enough,”” Li said. “”He does need to improve fairly significantly after this (season), but he will rise to the challenge and be a considerably better runner. I definitely see him able to make it on a professional level.””

    The humble Cheseret said he knows that his hard work now will pay off in the future.

    “”I think I’ll be making improvements every year,”” he said. “”It makes me feel like in the next two or three years I’m going to be a step ahead.

    “”That is what motivates me to run hard now. I think down the road, I’m going to be better than I am right now.””

    His teammates support his literal run toward his goals as well. Senior Obed Mutanya believes that Cheseret has the ability to make it to the professional ranks.

    “”He’s a good runner,”” Mutanya said. “”I think if he has more time to train – not having (schedule) conflicts with school, he can do whatever he wants.””

    Cheseret and Mutanya finished first and second, respectively, last season, helping Arizona place first as a team in the NCAA West Region.

    “”Obed is the most competitive with Robert,”” Li said. “”There is definitely some of that friendly competitiveness.””

    The men’s team boasts the experience of six seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.

    “”We definitely have lots of firepower up front,”” he said. “”We need to get at least a couple guys to come through significantly. If we do that, the men’s team has a good possibility to make a run at the conference title again.””

    Eight sophomores lead youthful women’s squad

    In contrast to the men’s team, the women’s team enters the season with a very young squad.

    But Li said he feels that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    “”We’ve got a very, very young team, but we’re even more experienced than last year,”” Li said of the team that boasts eight sophomores mixed in with five seniors, three juniors and three freshmen. “”The ladies gained some very, very valuable experience last track season, and now they have so much more confidence.””

    “”They are in a lot better shape,”” he added. “”Plus we have some pretty good new freshmen coming in. I think we’re going to have a great team.””

    One of the main reasons for this great team is the return of the Wildcats’ top runner in 2005, junior Emily McGregor.

    Though McGregor may not race until late September or early October due to a lingering stress fracture sustained in last year’s indoor track season, she is still optimistic about this season.

    “”Usually I’m running 60, 70 miles a week and right now I’m at like, 40,”” she said. “”I have a ways to build, but in a couple of months I’ll be training more intensely than I was last year.””

    Even with the early absence of McGregor, Li’s optimism about the women’s team was evident.

    “”We’re better in terms of talent,”” he said. “”We’re better in terms of our competitiveness, and we’re better in terms of the spirit of the team.””

    After all, the best things come in threes.

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