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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “CC squads plagued by youth, illness in ’07”

    Members of the Arizona womens cross country team cross the starting line during the annual Dave Murray Invitational on Sept. 14 in Tucson. Both the men and women experienced somewhat of a rebuilding season.
    Members of the Arizona women’s cross country team cross the starting line during the annual Dave Murray Invitational on Sept. 14 in Tucson. Both the men and women experienced somewhat of a rebuilding season.

    After seniors Robert Cheseret and Obed Mutanya graduated last year, Arizona head cross country coach James Li knew that things were going to be different. And they were.

    “”They were tremendous assets to this program,”” Li said. “”But that’s the nature of college sports. Every four years, the athletes move on.””

    With only one senior this season, Angelina Cabrera, on either the men’s or women’s team, they were not the same as last year. But that didn’t mean the Wildcats didn’t set high goals.

    “”We came up a little short,”” Li said. “”There were various reasons – youth, illnesses – and we ran really poorly at Pacific 10 Conference events.

    “”But we are showing good signs of being competitive in the near future.””

    The men’s team had nine freshmen, two sophomores and one junior on the roster, while the women’s team had two freshmen in its top seven.

    The men struggled to find success all season and performed their worst at the Pac-10 Championships, when Arizona’s top finisher finished behind every runner from the seven other schools competing.

    “”It is very difficult for freshmen to come in and compete right away,”” Li said. “”It’s like that in any collegiate sport.””

    Both squads had freshmen step up and give strong contributions to their respective teams.

    Freshmen Victor Zazueta and Maggie Callahan both consistently placed among the top three on their teams, while drawing praise from Li.

    Zazueta was the Arizona men’s top finisher in four of their final five events, with his best finish – fifth – at the ASU Invitational on Oct. 6. Callahan, an Alaska native, burst onto the scene by finishing in the top 10 in three of her first four collegiate events.

    “”They ran well this year,”” Li said. “”They ran about what we had expected from them, and they have a bright future ahead of them.””

    Li said Callahan nicely complemented juniors Irine Lagat and Marissa Urban, the leaders of the women’s team.

    Lagat and Urban finished in either first or second on the team in each event that both competed in. Their best finishes came at the ASU Invitational, where Urban placed second and Lagat third.

    “”Irine ran very well, especially after her poor season last year,”” Li said, “”and Marissa stabilized the team and both showed great consistency.””

    Despite the poor showings overall this season, Li believes his team has a bright future ahead.

    “”We have a lot of new people coming in, and next year we will be a lot more experienced and, hopefully, have better results,”” he said.

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