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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Cross-country faces in-state rivals

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Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona men’s and women’s cross-country teams will try to gain momentum heading into the postseason when they compete at the Arizona State Invitational on Thursday.

While the meet serves more as a practice run than a competition, UA cross-country head coach James Li believes the Wildcats can gain valuable experience as they look toward the Pac-12 Conference Championships next week.

“They just need to believe in themselves,” Li said. “We are really a good group of runners. Hopefully this week, they are going to start showing that.”

Facing elite competition in Wisconsin last week, both the men and women finished towards the bottom of the pack and neither side had a top-50 place finisher. Going into Thursday, neither team is ranked nationally, although the men are No. 12 in the West regional poll.

“We’re unsure of how good we are right now and of how competitive we can be,” Li said.

Li believes collectively, both the men and women can still accomplish their goal of competing well at nationals, but they need to take the next jump immediately.

“We really need to start moving things in a rapid way,” Li said. “There needs to be greater urgency.”

On Thursday, Arizona goes up against in-state opponents ASU and NAU. The Sun Devils are ranked No. 22 on the women’s side, while the Lumberjacks men are No. 10.

Li said ASU and NAU will likely not be at full strength since the meet doesn’t hold much sway in national rankings. 

However, Arizona will be taking down “more people than we planned,” Li said, in order to earn more experience.

On the men’s side, the Wildcats will race nearly all underclassmen, including sophomore Matthew Beer, who has been one of the team’s strongest runners this season.

Also competing in the 4-mile race are freshmen Michael Godbout, Rodolfo Gomes, Patrick Leary and Bailey Roth, sophomore Brendan Tinoco, junior Dylan Hopper and seniors Jonas Legernes and Braden Timpe.For the women, freshmen Chrissy Calain, Kayla Ferron and Claire Green, junior Daylee Burr and seniors Kate Penney and Hanna Peterson will all run in the 3-mile race.

In competitive races, such as the upcoming Pac-12 Championships, only the top-five finishers’ scores get tallied in the team points. The Wildcats nonetheless need to establish depth for the rest of this season and beyond; the meet Thursday is the last opportunity for many of the younger athletes to run in a competitive setting this season.

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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