Skieresz aims for cross country title

By Joel Flom
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 25, 1996

UA sophomore Amy Skieresz will head into today's NCAA cross country championships as the hometown hero and heavy favorite to win it all at the Del Urich Golf Course in Tucson.

Accompanying Skieresz at the biggest meet of the year will be the rest of the Arizona women's cross country team, which qualified after a second-place finish at the District VIII Championships, and senior Jon Pillow, who was the lone individual qualifier for the men's team.

The meet begins with the women's 5,100-meter race at 11 a.m. and follows with the men's 10,000-meter race at noon. It will feature 22 top teams and 30 individual qualifiers on the men's and women's sides.

On the women's side, No. 1 Villanova and second-ranked Stanford will be the team favorites with Skieresz the individual favorite. Arkansas is favored for the men, and the Razorbacks' Godfrey Siamsusyie is the individual favorite. Providing the pressure to Arkansas will be Stanford, Colorado and Northern Arizona.

Skieresz, who has not lost a race all season, is the favorite after winning the District VIII Championships by 47 seconds. An All-America and Pacific 10 Conference cross country athlete of the year last season, Skieresz became the second woman ever to win back-to-back Pac-10 championships this year. She took second place at the national championships last year.

Also running for the women will be sophomore Emily Nay, freshman Kristen Parrish, juniors Virginia Camacho, Tone Bratteng and Kelly Chavez, and senior Susan Scott. They are coming off their best meet of the season, where they finished second to Stanford at the District VIII Championships.

UA head coach Dave Murray said he sees the women as being capable of a finish in the top six or seven at the meet. The women will again be without senior Viola Schaffer, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury. If Schaffer were healthy, Murray said the women would have competed for a finish in the top three.

For the men, senior Jon Pillow was able to receive an at-large berth after placing 17th at the District VIII Championships. This is his second time at a national championship meet.

Pillow placed 135th in 1994 at Fayetteville, Ark. He is the only representative of a team that had to battle injuries as well as opponents this season. Had they been able to stay healthy this year, Murray said he felt that the team would have been able to place in the top 10 at this meet.