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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cross country hosts invitational this weekend

    The No. 8 Arizona men’s and unranked women’s cross country teams will host their first and only home meet of the season this evening, the Dave Murray Invitational, today at 5 p.m. at the Dell Urich Golf Course at Reid Park.

    The No. 9 ASU women’s team and No. 20 men’s squad, NAU, Pima College and Central Arizona College will also compete in the event named for the legendary UA cross country/track and field head coach.

    “”It’s really exciting,”” sophomore Staci Ulibarri said. “”We are at our home course, so we will have full support of the whole track team and cross country team.””

    It’s important to the runners to have this total support for team bonding purposes, Ulibarri said. Since only the top runners will travel to compete in future races, having all of the runners together for one event is very special to them.

    “”The chemistry of our team is the best it’s ever been,”” Ulibarri said. “”We all get along so well, it’s unbelievable. It’s going to be awesome having everyone together.””

    Nervousness can occur from being at home in front of family, friends and fans, but it only further motivates the runners. On top of that, the presence of the Sun Devils brings excitement.

    “”We like competing against ASU,”” Ulibarri said. “”Even though (cross country) may not be as well-known as football or basketball, it’s still ASU. We want to beat them just as bad as the (athletes from) other sports do.””

    Even though this will be yet another “”warmup”” race leading into larger races, the runners take their competition seriously.

    This will be the season debut for the majority of both squads, so an easy introduction is preferred. The women will be running a 4-kilometer course rather than the usual 6K, and the men will be running a 6K course rather than an 8K.

    This should also increase the individual times of the runners because they won’t be pacing themselves as much.

    “”This is the shortest race we will run all season,”” senior Ashley Ippolito said, “”so everyone should run a lot faster and produce faster times. The excitement of everyone being there will make us (run) faster as well.””

    UA head coach James Li has been out of town this week, so assistant coach Amy Skieresz-Wilson has taken on the duty of prepping both teams for today’s race.

    “”Having coach Li here is a bonus,”” senior Eric Chavez said, “”but coach Amy does a great job at running practice in his place, and she has done well to get us ready for this meet. There is a lot of seniority on this team, and we know what we have to do come race day whether coach Li is here or not.””

    The teams are hoping to do as well as they did in the season’s opening race, when freshman Adele Keating led the women’s team to a first-place finish at the George Kyte Classic, and junior Ben Eid did the same for the men’s team.

    “”We have a great group of runners this year,”” Chavez said. “”It will be good to get everyone out together for the first time this year, and it will be fun to watch. As a runner, you get to participate and watch the event at the same time. It’s fun.””

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