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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Championship season begins for Arizona cross-country

The No. 5 Arizona women’s and unranked men’s cross-country teams will begin the championship portion of their season on Saturday at the Pac-12 championships. The competition will be held at the Robson Ranch Golf course in Santa Clarita, Calif.

“The Pac-12 is such a strong conference in cross country,” head coach James Li said in a press release. “Four of the top six women’s teams in the country are in this meet and the men have three teams in the top eight.”

On the men’s side, Colorado, Stanford, Oregon and UCLA are ranked No. 2, 3, 8 and 15 respectively. The Arizona women will be up against Oregon, Stanford, Washington and UCLA, ranked No. 3, 4, 6 and 24 respectively. ASU, California, Oregon State, USC, Uta, and Washington State are not nationally ranked but will be competing on Saturday.

A top two finish in the West region at the end of the season would grant the team an automatic bid to the national championship race in Louisville, Ky. Currently, the Arizona women are ranked No. 3 and the men are ranked No. 8. Last week the women were ranked No. 1, but they fell two spots in the most recent regional poll, passed by Stanford and Oregon.

The 12 men competing in the 8,000-meter Pac-12 championship race for Arizona will be sophomore Kenji Bierig, junior James Eichberger, freshman Nathan Kandie, sophomore Lawi Lalang, sophomore Jonas Legernes, sophomore Sam Macaluso, senior Rory McLeod, freshman Michael Parkes, senior Stephen Sambu, freshman Christopher Tansey, junior Braden Timpe and sophomore Thomas Valente.

“We obviously have Lawi [Lalang] and Stephen [Sambu], who are the top runners in the nation,” Li said. “Then we have a bunch of younger guys who are ready to step up and I think we will have a considerably better showing at this meet.”

The 12 women running for the Wildcats in the 6,000-meter race on Saturday will be senior Elizabeth Apgar, senior Jen Bergman, sophomore Stephanie Bulder, freshman Molly Callahan, sophomore Nicci Corbin, sophomore Clea Formaz, junior Elvin Kibet, junior Melanie McGrath, junior Erin Menefee, junior Hannah Moen, sophomore Kate Penney and junior Amanda Russell.

“The women are definitely in the mix to challenge for the top spot but we could just as easily finish in fourth or fifth place,” Li said. “I think our ladies are confident and have had some good training for this upcoming meet, but also for regionals and the NCAA Championship.”

Last season at the Pac-12 Championship, the Arizona women earned a fifth place finish and the men’s team finished in eighth place. Arizona’s Lalang claimed the individual men’s title and set a course record, and Bergman was the top finisher for the UA women as she took sixth place overall.

“We’ll go there to compete and hopefully be able to answer the challenge,” Li said. “All I ask is that we go there and compete.”

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