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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s cross country No. 1 spot didn’t come easy

Tyler+Baker+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AMaria+Larsson+runs+in+the+Dave+Murray+Invitational+in+Tucson+on+Sept.+20.++
Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat Maria Larsson runs in the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson on Sept. 20.

The Arizona women’s cross country team’s first No. 1 ranking in UA history is no doubt a reason to celebrate, but it hasn’t been all fun and games.

Five other Pac-12 schools join Arizona in the women’s NCAA national poll. Oregon fell six spots to No. 12, Washington dropped nine spots to No. 13, Colorado slid four spots and sits at No. 16, Stanford fell nine spots to No. 20 and Arizona State jumped to No. 26 after being previously unranked. In the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association West Region, the UA women are also ranked No. 1.

The Wildcats took first in the George Kyte Classic, the Dave Murray Invitational, the Roy Griak Invitational, and the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.

“We had a long talk with coach the other day about being ranked No. 1 [and that] doesn’t mean that [we’re] gonna be No. 1. We still have to work, and this is just proof that what we are doing has been working for us,” said freshman Maria Larsson.

The Wildcats went into the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, on Oct. 19, ranked as the No. 3 team in the nation. They went up against some of the nation’s top ranked schools, including then No. 1 Providence. The UA took first place at the invitational this year, with a total of 117 points. In 2011 and 2012, the UA finished in third place at the invitational.

Junior Hanna Peterson said that the secret to success this year has been support from each member of the team.

“No matter what it is, school or running, or just personal stuff at home … if one of us has something going on, we just relax, calm down. We’re in this together,” Peterson said.

Being No. 1 in the nation puts some added pressure on the team to keep its ranking.

“The women have so much pride to be running for the University of Arizona. They want to represent as best they can. They are just proud to be Wildcats and so they [want to] go out and represent […] We would love to come back with a national championship,” said assistant coach Mo Huber. “Heading into the race being ranked first in the country, we have targets on our back, but I think that our ladies have now gained a little bit more confidence from this past weekend and they can handle going into the meet being the number one team and being able to perform well.”

The cross country team returns to action for the Pac-12 Championships on Nov. 2 in Boulder, Colo. Last year, the women’s team earned a runner-up finish. A win this year would mean a conference championship, another first for the Wildcats.

— Follow Makenzie Thiel @makenziethiel

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