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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Stakes high for cross country as team heads to Western regionals

    The No. 24 Arizona men’s cross country team and the unranked women’s team will race in the NCAA Western Regional Championships in Portland, Ore., tomorrow.

    In the meet, which is used as the selection tool for the NCAA Championships Nov. 20, the women’s race is of the usual 6-kilometer length, but the men close out the event with a 10K.

    “”We’ve been working out and doing stuff to simulate the 10K,”” said senior Eric Chavez of the jump from the regular-season 8K. “”Your race strategy changes a little bit …but I think we’ll be all right.””

    In the two weeks since the last race, the Pacific 10 Championships, the Wildcats have “”obviously paced themselves a little differently, but not too different,”” said UA head coach James Li. “”If you’re prepared to run 8K, generally speaking, you’re pretty prepared to run the 10K.””

    The stakes are high and the process is complicated, as for starters the first- and second-place teams earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships.

    After the regional competitions have concluded, the NCAA will select 13 additional teams based on their placing and regular-season records. On an individual level, the top 25 finishers in each regional race will earn All-Region accolades, while the top three finishers in the race that are not on one of the teams selected for nationals will gain entrance into the NCAA Championships.

    “”Basically the idea is that we want to go there and place as high as we can, and then hopefully we will have scored enough points along the way during the regular season that will help us,”” Li said.

    The seven-member men’s squad will be led by seniors Robert Cheseret and Obed Mutanya, who placed second and fifth, respectively, out of 77 runners in the Pac-10 Championships.

    The Wildcats, who placed first last year at regionals, will be competing against No. 6 Oregon, No. 7 Stanford, No. 9 Portland, No. 19 Cal Poly and No. 22 UC-Santa Barbara, as well as ASU.

    “”Our goal is to finish in the top three, competing with Portland, Oregon and Stanford, and I think we’ll be able to do that,”” sophomore Jason Colavito said.

    In order to finish high, Arizona needs to have its runners place fairly well individually.

    “”We’re a good team, and we’re pretty competent,”” Colavito said. “”We just need to improve, especially our mid-pack; not like, Bob (Cheseret) or Obed, but numbers three through seven. We just need to run about 10 seconds faster, and we’ll be right in the mix.””

    The Arizona women did not compete as a team last year, but they were represented by then-sophomore team captain Emily McGregor and then-junior Ashley Ippolito.

    This year the same duo will lead five other runners, with redshirt freshman Marissa Urban among them.

    Urban has been the first Wildcat to finish in each of the four races that she has competed in this season.

    The women’s race features No. 1 Stanford, No. 7 UCSB, No. 8 ASU and No. 29 Washington.

    “”We’re looking for the women to improve from last year and improve even from the Pac-10 performance,”” Li said of the team’s seventh-place finish. “”I think we’re ready for regionals.””

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