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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Competition up a notch for CC at Stanford

    The Arizona cross country teams will face tough competition at tomorrow’s 34th annual Stanford Cross Country Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif.

    Foremost among the Wildcats’ foes will be host Stanford, which has been nothing if not consistent. The No. 1 Stanford women are defending back-to-back NCAA champions, while the No. 6 Stanford men are coming off a fourth-place finish in last year’s NCAA Championships and have won nine of the last 11 Pacific
    10 Conference titles.

    The Cardinal teams swept their last meet, the Chico State Invitational on Sept. 8.

    Junior Irine Lagat said she is excited by the opportunity to race against a decorated set of opponents.

    “”It’s not intimidating,”” she said. “”It’s a huge opportunity when you compete against people that you know they are doing good and they have good times. To me, it motivates me when I run with them, and I just tell myself that I have to work harder.””

    Lagat led the women during Arizona’s last meet, the Sept. 14 Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson, finishing fourth. She ran the 4-kilometer race in 13:47.62, a personal best.

    “”The meet itself is going to be faster, so that means it’s likely for you to run faster, and you might improve your time,”” she said.

    UA cross country head coach James Li said this event marks the start of serious competition for the Wildcats.

    “”You can see right now, this week, across the nation, cross country is just starting to heat up,”” he said. “”Two weeks ago was still sort of preparation and trying to get ready, but now
    things are really heating up – bigger competition.””

    Stanford coach Peter Tegen would not say his teams are the ones to beat. “”I don’t really know,”” he said. “”Preseason rankings don’t mean all that much. You just don’t know at this point. There have hardly been any meets.””

    Tegen said the NCAA Pre-Nationals, to be held in Terre Haute, Ind., on Oct. 13, will be a better example of “”high-caliber competition.””

    “”You throw in the Pac-10 teams and, boom, you have a few pretty high competitions going,”” he said. “”But I’m quite certain that nobody is gunning for anything big at the beginning
    of the season.””

    But Tegen said he also did not want to write off this weekend’s event.

    “”Whenever you have like 40 teams coming together, there are usually five or six that are of pretty high quality,”” he said.

    Li agreed, estimating that the Wildcats will race up to four times
    as many teams as they did in their last race.

    “”It’s definitely a step up,”” he said. “”There is going to be considerably better competition.””

    Li hopes for improvement from both groups, but especially the men, who placed fifth in their last race. After the race, Li said, the men had received a “”reality check.

    “”””The most important thing is to step up in our performance a little bit,”” he said. “”We have an extremely young group on the men’s side and a pretty solid group on the women’s side, but we have to answer a couple challenges to be good here.””

    And the Arizona men are young. Out of 14 runners, 10 are freshman and three are sophomores. Junior Lou Maturo is the team’s lone upperclassman.

    “”The last two weeks of training have been going quite well, and I’m definitely expecting a step up in their performance,”” Li said. “”Then again, the competition is going to be (at a) so much higher level.””

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