By Jason A. Vrtis
Arizona Summer Wildcat July 30, 1997
UA runners on their marksLed by junior Amy Skieresz, the UA women's cross country team looks forward to another stellar year, while the men's team hopes to improve from last year's injury-riddled season.
Skieresz finished last year undefeated as the school's first NCAA cross country champion and also won individual titles at the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships on the track.
"Amy certainly was the highlight of last season. Hopefully she will stay healthy and continue to run well," said head Coach Dave Murray.
Last season, the Wildcat women finished third in the Pacific 10 Conference, second in the District VIII Championships and sixth at Nationals.
The women's team will be hurt by the losses of Viola Schaffer, who recently graduated and Emily Nay, a junior two-year starter who transferred to Brigham Young University over the summer, Murray said.
But with three key returnees led by sophomore Kristen Parrish and two top recruits, Murray looks for the women's team to challenge Stanford for the Pac-10 title.
Stanford, which won the Pac-10 title last year and went on to win the District VII and NCAA Championships, returns most of their runners and should be a formidable opponent.
The two top recruits are Erin Doherty of Tucson's Flowing Wells High School and Katrin Engelen of Germany.
Doherty was the high school state champion in cross country and the 1,600 and 3,200 meters last season.
Engelen has outstanding track credentials and should be a top contributor to this year's squad, Murray said.
On the men's side, Bob Keino, last season's number one runner will miss this year as he takes an academic red-shirt year to concentrate on his studies, Murray said. The men also lost last year's team captain and lone NCAA qualifier Jon Pillow to graduation.
But with the return of senior Margarito Casillas from injury and three solid recruits, the men's team appears to be in solid shape as the upcoming season approaches.
Last year the men failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships for only the second year since 1979, after fifth-place finishes at the Pac-10 and District VIII championships.
"Every year we try to qualify for the nationals and it's very rare when we don't make it, but with the talent we have this year we should improve over last season," Murray said.
Junior Jeff McLarty and sophomores Micheil Jones and Jeremy Lyon are coming off solid seasons and Murray hopes for more of the same this coming year.
Abdi Abdirahman, a junior college transfer from Pima Community College has the potential to be one of the top runners in the conference this year, he said.
Incoming freshmen David Lopez and Tom Prindiville, both from California, will look to make an immediate impact for Arizona.
The Wildcats open their season at the Jammin Invitational in Brea, Calif., on Sept. 6 and later they host the NCAA District VIII Championships on Nov. 15 at the Dell Urich Golf Course.