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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona cross country runner Jen Bergman sets high expectations for herself and for team

Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona hosts the Dave Murray Invitational cross country meet at Dell Urich Golf Course, Tucson, Ariz., September 18, 2009.

After two preseason meets, the Arizona women’s cross-country team is ranked 12th in the country. There are a few senior runners on the Wildcats’ roster who have taken on leadership roles, and none more so than Jen Bergman.

Entering her final year of eligibility, Bergman said she feels like Arizona still has a lot to accomplish, and that she has yet to finish a season feeling satisfied with the team’s performance.

“Since my freshman year, we have never left nationals satisfied,” Bergman said. “We always end the season knowing we could have done better.”

Since 2009, Bergman’s freshman season, the Wildcats have slowly moved up in the national standings, from rank 30 at the end of the 2009 season to ranked 14 at the start of this season.

“Finishing stronger this year than last year should be a piece of cake,” Bergman said. “I want to leave Arizona knowing in my final season I helped the whole team finish happy and satisfied with our nationals race.”

Head coach James Li has been critical of Arizona’s performance in recent years and has stressed the importance of performing as a solid unit. He wants his captains to be pushing each other to succeed.

“Being one of the leaders, Jen [Bergman] needs to always do her best and support,” Li said. “I look for her to not only support but also motivate each of the girls and encourage the team.”

Even though the season is in its early stages, Li appears to be satisfied with how Bergman has worked within her leadership role.

“She can be and always has been a great positive influence,” Li said. “The rest of the team really looks up to her for leadership. She is an incredible, positive influence on the rest of the girls.”

Bergman was held out of Friday’s preseason race at Del Urich golf course, as were most of Arizona’s top runners. Junior Elvin Kibet, who won the race for the women, said she believes that Bergman still has an influence on the team even when not running with it.

“It was a little different not having Jen [Bergman] there. I’m used to running alongside her,” Kibet said. “Having her run alongside with me really helps me keep a good pace and pushes me.

But even when she’s not running with me, she’s always there supporting me.”

Bergman and Kibet have formed a strong relationship at the UA, and it can be seen in their results. Bergman and Kibet constantly finish side by side at or near the top of competitions. Now the duo is trying to get the rest of the Wildcats to work alongside them.

“In past years, it’s just been me and Elvin [Kibet] working out together, which is why I think we have such a great relationship,” Bergman said. “But this year we’ve been getting a lot of the other team to work out with us, which the rest of the girls see and helps motivate them to work harder and want it more.”

Last season Bergman earned sixth-place finishes in the Pac-12 championships and the NCAA west regionals and a 12th place finish at nationals. She said she believes she has worked hard and is ready to leave Arizona cross-country on top of her game. With her first race just a week and a half away, Bergman is far from nervous about her final season as a Wildcat.

“I’m excited and ready for the season,” Bergman said. “My realistic goals are to do the best I can do and to help the team end the season better than our expectations.”

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