Wildcat cross country team dominates opener
The Arizona men's and women's cross country teams opened their season with a bang, capturing both team titles at the UC Irvine/Asics Cross Country Invitational in Huntington Beach, Calif., this weekend.
When asked about his squad's first performance of the year, UA cross country coach Dave Murray was elated.
"I was very pleased with our performance, both men's and women's, we had a real good first meet," Murray said.
The Wildcat men won easily, finishing with 34 points - 22 points ahead of second place finisher Northern Arizona. Arizona State finished third with 109 points.
The Wildcat women won equally as easily, finishing 30 points ahead of second place UCLA with 51 points. Northern Arizona finished third on the women's side with 98 points.
Seniors Amy Skieresz and Abdi Abdirahman won individual titles for the Wildcats. Abdirahman edged fellow Wildcat David Lopez at the finish line to win the 8,000 meters race in 24 minutes, 44 seconds. Murray was pleased with Abdirahman's finish, but took time to praise Lopez as well.
"David has a lot of talent," Murray said. "He was one of the top freshmen in the Pac-10 last year, and he is only getting stronger."
Junior Micheil Jones finished third for the Wildcats at 24:47 and freshman Steve Smith was impressive in his opening race, finishing 13th overall at 25:18.
Skieresz took home the 5,000m race in 17:14, eight second ahead of the second place finisher, UA freshman Tara Chaplin.
"To win, I need to get stronger." Chaplin said. "Amy pulled away from me on the steeper ups, and to catch her, I just need to be stronger."
Junior Kristen Parrish returned to form, finishing ninth overall at 18:20. Parrish was inactive most of last year due to health problems.
"Kristen ran very well and I was very pleased with her performance," Murray said.
Junior Claire Becker, a transfer from Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo, was also impressive in her debut as a Wildcat, finishing 17th overall at 18:48.
"We found out a lot about our team, and I am real excited about the rest of the season," Murray said.
Mike Jenkins can be reached via e-mail at Mike.Jenkins@wildcat.arizona.edu.