The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

78° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Lagat just misses nationals

    All great things must come to an end. But for senior cross country runner Irine Lagat, the end came too soon.

    With a strong 2008 season full of many top finishes, Lagat had begun establishing herself as one of the nation’s best runners and a true contender for a spot in the NCAA national championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 24.

    Lagat finished 17th out of 206 runners in 20:28.05 in the West Regional Championship in Palo Alto, Calif., on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough.

    The complicated NCAA rules state that only four bids for the national championship are given out to runners who finish in the top 25 in their given regional meet, who are not on a qualifying team.

    Lagat was the fifth-place runner on a non-qualifying team, missing the cut by only one runner.

    “”When you work so hard and you really want it so bad and you don’t get it, it hurts,”” Lagat said. “”It’s just disappointing

    and frustrating.

    “”My goal was to make it to nationals,”” Lagat continued. “”I came close to meeting that goal but, unfortunately, I missed out.””

    At this point, even though she is upset about not getting a bid, Lagat said she realizes there’s no point in worrying about the past and is just going to move on.

    “”It’s a little sad, but now I just have to look ahead and focus on track,”” Lagat said. “”I didn’t get to nationals, but I just have to take that and move forward.””

    On the other hand, UA head coach James Li views things differently and is very disappointed in the result.

    “”It’s not totally fair in terms of the selection process because with Irine,”” Li said. “”That’s the system we have in place right now, and it’s definitely unfortunate.””

    Li said the NCAA should focus less on regional standings and actually consider the region’s toughness, as doing this will make the decision over which runners are most deserving of a bid to nationals much more accurate.

    “”The fact of the matter is they don’t look at the strength of the region, they only look at how high you placed in your respected region,”” Li said. “”If you are in a weaker region, you’re at a definite advantage.””

    Lagat will return to her final year with the women’s track team as a distance runner. To get prepared for the track season in the spring, Lagat said she still needs to talk with the coaches and discuss ways for her to become a better runner.

    “”I’m trying to look back on what I did wrong and what I can change,”” Lagat said. “”The coaches will have a lot for me to correct. After that, I’ll be able to know what to do next.””

    Even though Lagat’s successful UA cross country career has come to an end sooner than she had hoped, she has nothing but the most positive things to say about her experiences with the team.

    “”I enjoyed every moment of the cross country team,”” Lagat said. “”I loved meeting so many new people and loved all the fun team trips. It’s so much fun to get out there and run with everyone.””

    Although these are troubling times for Lagat, she insists that she will always keep her chin up and stay motivated about what she is so passionate about.

    “”I will still encourage myself to keep working hard and staying focused,”” Lagat said. “”Running is what I love doing.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search