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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Cross country takes step forward

%09Arizona+sophomore+distance+runner+Collins+Kibet+crosses+the+finish+line+during+the+men%26%238217%3Bs+4.25-mile+race+in+the+Dave+Murray+Invitational+at+Del+Urich+Golf+Course+on+Sept.+19.+The+Arizona+men%26%238217%3Bs+and+women%26%238217%3Bs+cross+country+teams+will+compete+in+the+Virginia%2FPanorama+Farms+Invitational+on+Friday.
Cecilia Alvarez

Arizona sophomore distance runner Collins Kibet crosses the finish line during the men’s 4.25-mile race in the Dave Murray Invitational at Del Urich Golf Course on Sept. 19. The Arizona men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational on Friday.

The Arizona men’s and women’s cross country teams will open up the competitive stretch of the season on Friday as they compete in the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational.

After sweeping their home meet last week, the Wildcats are looking to make a mark nationally when they take on a number of East Coast programs, including Auburn, Clemson, Duke (M), and Virginia.

“This is really our first meet that the competition is going to be very tough,” UA head coach James Li said. “It will be a big test for us.”

While the men and women both looked impressive facing local competition, Li said the team still isn’t where it needs to be. Racing against quality opponents should provide a good measuring stick.

“We need to be in more competitions,” Li said. “Being in good shape is one thing. Being able to race at a top level is a different story.”

The two teams are not ranked in the national polls, but that could change with a strong showing.

“It’s not a make it or die type of situation,” Li said, “but it will be a good opportunity for our team to grow.”

Sophomore Collins Kibet and senior Sam Macaluso led the Arizona men in the 8,000 meter race after finishing first and second, respectively, at the home meet last week.

“Last week was a benchmark for us to know what else we need to work on,” Kibet said. “Right now, we’re working on getting stronger [and] going to the gym regularly. We want to be able to keep up with the pace.”

Leading the pack for the women will be senior Kristina Aubert, who has already won two races in dominating fashion. A transfer from Arkansas State, Aubert is a key addition to a team aiming to defend its Pac-12 Conference title.

“It’s been awesome,” said Aubert of her time in Tucson. “There are so many of us at the same level that it’s easier to get through training.”

That training has paid off for Aubert in the form of two first-place finishes, each by around 40 seconds. However, Aubert emphasized that the focus on Friday is to finish together as a team and less on individual times.

“We want a good showing from our one through five [runners],” said Aubert. “The goal is to finish 45-60 seconds of one another. We can’t control how other teams are going to do, so we just need to run our own race.”
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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter @EzraAmacher

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