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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Cross Country takes fifth, earns NCAA bid”

Entering the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Meet on Nov. 13 with realistic expectations, it was hard to say exactly how the meet in Eugene, Ore., would go for UA’s cross country teams because of the high level of competition in the West Region. However, both the women’s team and the men’s individual qualifiers left the meet with something to be proud of.

The No. 24 women’s team finished in fifth place at West Regionals, good enough to be invited to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., which will take place on Nov. 23. For the individual men, junior Mohamud Ige turned in a spectacular run and earned himself ninth place out of 182 runners.

Ige’s 30:56.84 finish was only 18 seconds slower than first place and put him far ahead of any other individual qualifying runners.

“”We’re really, really proud of him,”” said head coach James Li. “”It’s a big, big improvement on his side, and you added a few more really good teams and he finished ninth. In the Pac-10 (meet) he finished 20th. This is a way better performance, and we’re really proud of him.””

By placing ninth, Ige earns an automatic qualifying bid for a trip to the NCAA National Meet.

Although no runners earned as high a place as Ige on the women’s side, junior Maggie Callahan continued to be a force for the Wildcats, earning 24th place with a time of 21:38.11. She was the first woman from the team to cross the line.

“”This meet was a lot bigger and rougher (than the Pac-10),”” Callahan said. “”The start was crazy because there were girls falling all over the place. Also, it was a very slow course. The times were over a minute slow because of all the mud.””

After Callahan ran through the finish, freshmen Cami Jackson and Jennifer Bergman finished together in 36th and 37th places. The superb freshman class continued to come through when Elizabeth Apgar crossed the line in 51st with a time of 22:12.71.

The real surprise of the day though, started when one of the top freshman runners, Lauren Smith, didn’t make the trip because of injury. In her place, oft-injured freshman Megan Meyer made her first trip of the season to race and she delivered. As the fifth runner for Arizona to cross the line with a time of 22:23.99, she earned the team points towards their 5th place team finish.

“”It was a big surprise,”” said the veteran Callahan. “”She hasn’t raced with us this season, and she’s been battling injuries all year. We weren’t sure if she could do it, and she did better than we all expected. It was very exciting.””

The performances by the women earned the No. 24 ranked team a fifth place finish behind national No. 1 Washington, No. 5 Oregon, No. 14 Stanford and No. 16 A SU.

“”The women’s performance, I wouldn’t call it spectacular, but we did what we needed to do,”” said Li. “”As a team, I think we did about as well as we could.””

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