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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “CC team reloads after graduation of stars Cheseret, Mutanya”

    Former Wildcat Robert Cheseret runs to a first place finish Sept. 17, 2005, at the Dave Murray Invitational at the Dell Ulich Golf Course. Cheseret completed his eligibility last December.
    Former Wildcat Robert Cheseret runs to a first place finish Sept. 17, 2005, at the Dave Murray Invitational at the Dell Ulich Golf Course. Cheseret completed his eligibility last December.

    Graduation can often be a headache for collegiate coaches.

    But in the case of the Arizona men’s cross country team, it caused the most severe migraine imaginable. This past year, graduation ravaged the team. Only three runners return, none of them All-American Robert Cheseret.

    “”You really can’t replace a guy like that,”” said UA head coach James Li. “”Robert Cheseret is one of those guys that you come across only once in a coaching career.””

    UA head track coach Fred Harvey agreed.

    “”It’s a huge impact because when you lose a guy like Robert – he was an inspiration in a lot of different aspects,”” he said. “”A lot of your athletes come to depend upon a guy like that. You know when he steps on the track what kind of level he is gonna compete at, and it eases the pressure on a lot of other athletes.

    “”Losing him is a hard thing to swallow, but that is one of those things that you go through every four or five years with every great athlete.””

    The team also graduated Chris Ogle, Eric Chavez and another All-American, Obed Mutanya.

    “”Those were your big-impact people on the cross country team,”” Harvey said. “”Eric Chavez has returned as a volunteer assistant, and he’s been helping us out tremendously.””

    The men’s team returns only three scorers from last season in sophomores Dylan Fitzpatrick and Brian MacArthur, and junior Lou Maturo, the only upperclassman on the squad.

    “”(The returnees) really have to step up in terms of a leadership role and help direct the young guys in a direction we would like to see them go,”” Harvey said. “”Coach Li did a great job in recruiting a good, solid core group of young men that are gonna step up and give us a good go of it this year.””

    Despite the losses, and the abundance of youth, Harvey said he feels optimistic about the upcoming season.

    “”We expect a lot from the new athletes coming in,”” Harvey said. “”They’re talented, and we brought in large numbers because it takes the pressure off one elite athlete from having to come in and carry the burden.””

    Harvey said he is impressed with the team’s depth, adding that the team is “”a lot stronger top to bottom. We have eight people that really can interchange well, and when only five can score, the better your top eight is, the better your team is gonna be as a whole.””

    Fitzpatrick is the most experienced returner, Harvey said, and is going to be looked upon “”to really carry the load.”” Also, Harvey expects major contributions from freshmen Spencer Carter, Zach Hauer and Mike Armon.

    Victor Zazueta is perhaps the most accomplished of the incoming athletes, having won the Arizona state cross country championship the last two seasons.

    As for whether the squad will become an elite team right away, Harvey said he thinks that might be a lot to ask but remains optimistic.

    “”Never underestimate what a group of young athletes can do with that ability,”” he said.

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