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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Men’s cross country qualifies for nationals with 5th-place finish

    The No. 24 men’s and unranked women’s Arizona cross country teams finished fifth and 10th, respectively, at the NCAA West Regionals Saturday in Portland, Ore.

    It’s certainly not the first-place finish the men had last season, but fifth place was good enough to qualify the team for the NCAA Championships Monday in Terre Haute, Ind.

    “”On the men’s side, I don’t think we had a great race, but we did not do terribly either,”” UA head coach James Li said. “”We had enough to get us among the 31 teams at the national championships, and that’s what counts.””

    No. 6 Oregon, No. 7 Stanford, No. 9 Portland and Washington were the only schools out of 25 to top Arizona.

    The Arizona men were led by senior Obed Mutanya, who placed third overall, finishing the 10-kilometer course in 30:14.64.

    He placed high despite slipping in the mud and falling with four meters left in the race.

    “”He still got up and managed to finish third,”” Li said. “”That’s pretty good.””

    Senior Robert Cheseret finished 17 seconds later, in eighth place.

    “”Personally, I didn’t have my best race,”” Cheseret said. “”I think for me, I can still do better than that. That is my focus right now – to do better at nationals.””

    Seniors Moses Mpanga (27th), Eric Chavez (56th) and junior Chris Ogle (64th) completed the scoring for the Wildcats.

    In order to do well at nationals, the back three or four runners need to pick up the pace slightly, Li said, enabling the team to finish higher.

    “”That’s what Coach was talking to us about,”” Cheseret said. “”We need to run maybe like, 10 seconds faster. You can pass maybe 20, 30 people in a big meet like nationals. Ten seconds faster is going to help us a lot.””

    The Arizona women’s 10th-place finish out of 30 squads pleased Li.

    “”You can definitely tell the progress the ladies are making,”” Li said of his team, which didn’t even compete in regionals last year.

    Redshirt freshman Marissa Urban finished 41st in 22:30.82 on the 6K course.

    Urban was the first Wildcat finisher in each of the five races she competed in this season.

    Urban was followed by junior Emily McGregor, who crossed the line in 55th place.

    After a hard year coming back from the death of her mother and twin sister, McGregor has shown signs of improvement after being the Wildcats’ top runner last year.

    “”She’s been doing reasonably well,”” Li said. “”Not quite at her best, but we are really happy with where she is right now.””

    Junior Angelina Cabrera (64th), senior Ashley Ippolito (66th) and junior Danelle Onate (92nd) rounded out Arizona’s scoring.

    “”Overall I think the women really performed quite well,”” Li said.

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