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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Men’s cross country takes first at Griak Invitational

    The wait has paid off.

    After postponing his participation in meets this year, Arizona senior Robert Cheseret led the No. 5 Wildcat men’s cross country team to a first-place finish in the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday.

    “”It’s always nice to win at a big meet like Griak,”” UA head coach James Li said. “”It’s a large meet, and winning it shows great signs for the future.””

    Host No. 23 Minnesota and No. 26 Virginia captured second and third place, respectively, to cap off the top three spots of the 34 teams.

    Cheseret finished fourth out of 301 participants in the 8-kilometer race with a time of 24:22. Following closely behind was senior Obed Mutanya, who finished fifth with a time of 24:27.

    “”Robert and Obed ran well, but I don’t think they ran their best, especially with this being Robert’s first race,”” Li said. “”They have room for improvement, and when they improve, it will make the team better than they already are.””

    A close finish by the rest of the pack was the key to having a strong ending to the race for Arizona.

    Seniors Moses Mpanga (24th, 25:24), Eric Chavez (46th, 25:49) and junior Kenny Frank (63rd, 26:01) each scored points for the Wildcats, and Li said the three were key to winning the meet.

    “”They kicked ass in the last 100 meters,”” Cheseret said.

    Junior Chris Ogle (99th, 26:19) and sophomore Jason Colavito (123rd, 26:30) also competed for the Wildcats.

    “”We are happy with how we ran as a team, but we should do even better next time because we’ll make some improvements,”” Cheseret said.

    The Arizona women’s team, meanwhile, finished in 18th place in the 6K race. UC-Santa Barbara won the event, while No. 9 ASU and No. 13 Baylor claimed the second and third place spots, respectively, in the 31-team event.

    Redshirt freshman Marissa Urban, clocked at 23:01, was the first Wildcat to cross the line, placing 75th overall out of 288 participants.

    “”This is the biggest college cross country meet she’s ever been in,”” Li said. “”She did a great job to lead the rest of the girls.””

    Finishing closely behind Urban were senior Ashley Ippolito (88th, 23:10), juniors Angelina Cabrera (107th, 23:32) and Danelle Onate (124th, 23:46), sophomore Shelly Splittberger (133rd, 23:52), freshman Tiffany Sorrell (137th, 23:58) and junior Emily McGregor (162nd, 24:25).

    McGregor, who was the first Wildcat to cross the finish line in every race she competed in during 2005, did not have the kind of outing that was anticipated, although it was undetermined whether she would even participate days preceding the race.

    “”She has been through a lot in the last 18 months,”” said Li, alluding to McGregor’s loss of her twin sister and mother. “”Anyone would struggle in her situation. She ran the fastest that she could, and it was (a) triumph on her part.””

    Although the women’s squad ran well as a team – finishing within 104 seconds of each other – the goal for the next meet, Li said, is to move that pack closer to the front of the race.

    “”They are all capable of running another 20 to 30 seconds faster,”” he said.

    The Wildcats have made tremendous progress from last year and the year before, Li said, but it is still early in the year, and the runners have time to improve their speed before the next meet at ASU Oct. 7.

    “”I’m very pleased with how we performed overall,”” Li said.

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