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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Cross country rolls at Dave Murray Invite

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily WIldcat

Running stride for stride for the majority of the race, sophomore Elvin Kibet and junior Jen Bergman led the No. 10 Arizona women’s cross-country team to a commanding victory at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson. In the men’s event, freshman Lawi Lalang had a spectacular debut, coming in first and carrying the team to a first overall finish in the event as well.

For Kibet, the victory instilled confidence, but with that, she said there are still improvements to be made.

“I feel great,” Kibet said after recovering from her first-place finish. “I am really excited because I didn’t expect to win it.
“I think (the race) gives me more motivation really with myself, and I get more confident. I can do much, much better.”

Kibet took first place after separating from Bergman near the end to finish with a time of 16:22 in the women’s 3-mile race, edging her teammate by just seven seconds.

That level of competition was not on display in the men’s side as Lalang beat the second-place finisher by 54 seconds, posting a time of 20:06 in the men’s 4.25-mile run.

“I think it was OK, but I still have to work on some sides (of racing),” Lalang said. “For me, I think it was my first time doing a cross-country so I need to get used to running fast.”

In addition to Lalang, sophomore Patrick Zacharias finished third overall and second in points while freshman Kenji Bierig finish sixth overall and fifth in points, giving the UA first place with a total of 34 points. ASU finished second with 64 points and NAU took third with 72 points.

In the women’s race, the dominance of the Kibet and Bergman made the total scores even more lopsided than the men’s. The Wildcats finished first with 18 points, as NAU was second with 45 points and Central Arizona third with 101 points.

“(The UA women) all looked really good today,” assistant coach Erin Dawson said. “As a team that was our goal today — to run as a team. We are going to go to Roy Griak next week, and that’s when we are going to have some people doing racing from the gun.”

The Wildcats travel to St. Paul, Minn. on Saturday, for the Roy Griak Invitational which will feature much stiffer competition.
“This race is good preparation,” Dawson said. “We just went through the motions of getting ready for a race.”

Even though it was more of a warm-up event for the Wildcats, the performances of the top runners made a deep impact for fellow teammates.

When Zacharias was asked about the team’s goals for the season, he said chasing Lalang will push the team forward.

“As a team we are looking to just get as close to (Lalang) as we can,” Zacharias said. “Obviously he is one of the top runners in the nation right now, and we are trying to work as a group to kind of close that gap.”

Head coach James Li was also impressed by the performances of Lalang and Kibet.

“I don’t remember in the past anyone running any faster (than Lalang),” Li said.

Overall the men’s team had four runners score in the top 10, and all nine runners made it in the top 50 overall. A total of 99 runners finished the event on the men’s side.

The women, who ran in several large packs through the race, had nine of the top 10 overall finishers, with only one NAU runner disrupting the Wildcats near-perfect mark. All 14 of the runners for UA finished in the top 22 overall.

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