Cross country teams running into success
Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Summer Wildcat
TARA CHAPLIN, whom UA head coach Dave Murry called "One of the best runners in the country," is returning for the women's cross country team.
The Arizona men's and women's cross country teams are looking to build on last year's success of six team titles and 10 individual titles with the return of a majority of runners on both squads.
This will not be easy for the women after losing Amy Skieresz, who finished second at the NCAA Championships last season even though she was suffering from a benign tumor on her right femur.
The men lost Abdi Abdirahman, who also finished second at the NCAA Championships.
Both Abdirahman and Skieresz were Pacific 10 Conference Athletes of the Year, only the second time athletes from the same school have won the award.
"I think this year we lose our primary number one runners," said UA head coach Dave Murray. "Amy is done on the women's side and Abdi is done on the men's side. Both are major losses, however I do feel that Abdi is the only loss off our men's team because we return six of our top seven runners on the men's side. We also return five of the top seven runners on the women's side."
Returning for the women is Tara Chaplin, whom Murray called "one of the best runners in the country," as well as Kristin Parrish, Brooke Murphy, Maia Wright, Claire Becker and Erin Doherty, who redshirted last year.
Coming back for another year on the men's side will be Micheil Jones, Jeremy Lyon and David Lopez.
Murray also said that Tom Prindiville, a redshirt from a year ago and Wade Juntunen, a North Dakota state champion, should make a difference for the men's team.
With no real newcomers for the women's team, Murray said that the UA "won't probably be quite as strong on the women's side, but on the men's side we could be even better."
As for the competition this season, Stanford will again be the team to beat after finishing second on the men's side and third on the women's at NCAAs.
"Oh, yeah, I don't think there's any question about that. Stanford will be the overwhelming favorite. They have so many more bodies," Murray said.
"I'm not saying we can't beat Stanford, they lost their two big guns. Behind them on the men's side we can be right up there, fighting for the top two positions. On the women's side I think it should be Stanford and Washington," he added.