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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cross Country faces big challenge ahead

    October marks a pivotal point in the cross country season. Both the UA men’s and women’s teams have completed two races and now head to South Bend, Ind., today to compete in the Notre Dame Invitational, a meet that is vital for the success of the team.

    “”It’s a huge meet, a very big deal,”” said senior Shelly Splittberger. “”There are 11 or 12 ranked teams competing, so it’s super important to do well. A success will help give us a ticket to nationals.””

    Although Splittberger has not run at the Notre Dame course before, she is not worried and knows exactly what to expect.

    “”This course is being compared to the Pre-Nationals course. It’s a flat and fast course. Every course is different and we run to adapt,”” Splittberger said.

    One of the reasons for the early success for the women’s team is the great running from the younger athletes, especially the freshmen.

    One of the talented freshman runners is newcomer Hanna Henson, who finished right behind Splittberger at the Dave Murray Invitational on Sept. 29 with a time of 14:25.62.

    Henson, who will be running in the biggest race of her college career today, said she isn’t nervous or feeling any pressure to succeed.

    “”There’s something to be said about being a freshman and coming into a big meet like this,”” Henson said. “”But you have to realize that it’s a race and not to get overwhelmed by all the people and all the teams.””

    Another strong freshman runner is Hannah Moen, who was the third UA runner to finish with an impressive time of 14:16.65 at the Dave Murray Invitational.

    One of the reasons for the success of the younger runners is the great leadership from the veterans.

    “”The older girls have talked about being a close team,”” Henson said. “”It’s great just knowing your teammate will be there for you.””

    Splittberger said one of the most important things the team needs to accomplish in order to succeed this season is by having all the runners finish closer together.

    “”We need to close the gap between our No. 1 and No. 5 runners. Everyone needs to catch up to Irine (Lagat),”” Splittberger said with a chuckle.

    Catching up to Lagat, a senior, would be a great accomplishment for any runner, as she has been the UA’s top female runner for a few years now.

    On the men’s side of things, the team knows what to expect and is confident that they will do well.

    Redshirt freshman Abdi Hassan shares similar feelings about the course as Splittberger.

    “”We kind of know the course,”” Hassan said. “”(Head) coach (James Li) told us what we need to expect. It’s pretty flat so hopefully it’ll boost our confidence.””

    Hassan said he is not just focusing on the Pac-10 championships, but he is also thinking about a national championship.

    “”It’s very, very important for us to run well. We need to do well in order to go to the NCAA Championships,”” Hassan said. “”This is our first big meet so we need to score points against top teams.””

    In order to do well, Hassan said there are certain things the team needs to do.

    “”We need to get our acts together and stay focused, especially in races,”” Hassan said. “”It’s always important for each of us to focus and keep working hard and stay positive.””

    Today’s meet is the longest distance both squads will travel this season until they return to Indiana for pre-nationals on Oct. 18.

    “”It’s the nature of a cross country runner,”” Hassan said. “”You have to travel a lot.””

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