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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona cross-country prepares for Wisconsin Adidas Invitational

The No. 2 Arizona women and unranked men’s cross country teams will compete Friday in the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.

Friday’s meet will be the Wildcats’ final race before the Pac-12 Championships on Oct. 27 and will be hosted by the defending men’s champions, the University of Wisconsin.

The UA men will race against 45 opponents, 13 of whom are ranked in the top 30. While the UA women will race against 48 other schools, eight of whom who are ranked in the top 30
“It’s just another stop in the quest for a strong championship season that starts right after this week,” head coach James Li said in a press release. “We’re going to Wisconsin for some strong results and to get people more racing experience.”

For the men, Friday’s race will be an opportunity to fight back into national championship contention and to prepare for the Pac-12 championships. Senior Stephen Sambu is coming off a strong performance at the competitive Louisville Classic, where he finished second behind teammate Lawi Lalang and broke the course record by more than 30 seconds.

“I’m very excited, but I have to make sure I push the rest of the guys and keep them going,” Sambu said. “This is my last year here and I want to make sure I go out on top, because how you finish is how you are remembered. This race is very important for us in order to make sure we are improving and finishing strong.”

Along with Sambu and Lalang, the UA men will run sophomore Kenji Bierig, senior Rory McLeod, sophomore Thomas Valente, sophomore Sam Macaluso, sophomore Jonas Legernes and freshman Nathan Kandie. In 2011, Lalang won the men’s 8k race in 23 minutes and 10 seconds, a course record.

“We’re looking for Nathan Kandie, Sam Macaluso and Kenji Bierig to run better,” Li said. “Lawi [Lalang] and Stephen [Sambu] couldn’t run any better, in terms of scoring team points, they could not do any better. If we could close the gap a little bit, then we would be in good shape.”

For the women, Friday’s race will be an opportunity to stay in the spotlight and strengthen their already high confidence. As their ranking has risen over the past few weeks, so has the attention that they have received. Along with a No. 2 overall ranking, junior Elvin Kibet is undefeated this season. However, Kibet is positive that the attention she and the Wildcats have inherited will not get in the way of Friday’s race or the rest of the season.

“Our goal for Friday is to finish top three,” Kibet said. “We have a very, very strong team and we are all confident we can succeed. But the attention and all makes us all very humble and honored, but in the end we know it doesn’t mean anything. All that matter is that we run well.”

Running alongside Kibet for the Wildcats will be senior Elizabeth Apgar, senior Jen Bergman, sophomore Stephanie Bulder, junior Amanda Russell, junior Erin Menefee, sophomore Kate Penney, sophomore Clea Formaz, junior Melanie McGrath and sophomore Molly Callahan. In 2011, the women placed third in the 6k race and Kibet led the way with a 12th place finish.

“Since Louisville we’ve had to deal with some minor injuries,” Li said.” They will run the first 6k of the year, that will be different as well but I believe in our team will still do well there.”

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