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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona cross-country prepares for Grand Canyon University Invitational

The No. 2 Arizona women and unranked men’s cross-country teams will compete Saturday in the Grand Canyon University Invitational in Goodyear, Ariz.

Saturday’s meet will not carry as much weight as last week’s, The Greater Louisville Classic. However, head coach James Li said he believes it will be a great opportunity to build depth.

“If we can help it we won’t run our top five runners,” Li said. “This race will give other runners who don’t get to run quite as much a chance to compete and race and get stronger.”

The eight-kilometer men’s and five-kilometer women’s race will mainly feature small Division II schools and local Arizona schools such as Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University. Li doesn’t believe ASU will bring their top runners either.

The meet on Saturday will be the UA women’s first race since the Louisville Classic, and their first competition as the No. 2 ranked team in the country and No. 1 ranked team in the west region. Li appreciates the attention his team has received, though he also understands that added pressure comes with it.

“I think naturally there will be a little more pressure,” Li said. “But part of being a good athlete is being able to handle pressure. As we succeed and get better there will be more challenges and I hope and think we should be able to overcome them.”

The men finished in ninth place overall at the Louisville Classic, but had two top finishers. Sophomore Lawi Lalang won the meet and senior Stephen Sambu finished closely behind him. Both runners broke the track record by over 30 seconds. According to Li, neither Lalang nor Sambu will likely run on Saturday.

Following Saturday’s meet, the Wildcats will head to the Wisconsin Invitational, which most likely will be the toughest meet so far for the Wildcats. Li said he not only hopes to use Saturday’s race as an opportunity to build depth but also keep the team focused.

“Both the men and women have improved so much since last season,” Li said. “And right now we are definitely excited and it feels good to have people talking about us, but we have a long way to go and we can get better.”

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