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Cross country team looks to leave opponents in the dust

By Mike Jenkins
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 1, 1998
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Senior Amy Skieresz returns for her final year, and is gunning for her second national title. The Wildcat cross country team opens its season Sept. 12 at the Irvine Invitational in Irvine, Calif.

The Arizona men's and women's cross country teams are looking to make it back to the NCAA Tournament this season after narrowly missing a bid last year.

UA head coach Dave Murray seemed very optimistic when asked about both teams.

"I think we will be very good this year," Murray said. "With defending national champion Stanford and highly-touted Oregon, we play in the toughest conference in the country. I think we will compete and compete well against any schools we go up against."

Murray has plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The Wildcat men return six runners and the women five from last year's squads.

Leading the way for the men is senior Abdi Abdirahman, who led the men's team last year and finished seventh at the NCAA Tournament. He was the lone representative from the men's team to make the NCAA Tournament.

"Abdirahman is a great runner, and we are really glad to have him as a part of our squad," Murray said.

But to compete well against the rest of the conference and return to the NCAA Tournament, Abdirahman will need some help from senior Jeff McLarty, juniors Jeremy Lyon and Micheil Jones and sophomores David Lopez and Tom Prindiville.

"We are looking really good and we are definitely looking to be in the top 5, no question," McLarty said.

"Jeremy (Lyon) and I spent time training up in the Sierra Nevadas, at 7,500 feet, in the offseason, and Abdi's looking to win it all, so I feel very confident," McClarty added.

The women's team is led by senior Amy Skieresz. Skieresz, the 1996 NCAA Champion, won 13 consecutive races last year before breaking her winning streak at the NCAA Championships by Carrie Tollefson of Villanova.

When asked to describe Skieresz, only one word came to Murray's mind: "phenomenal."

Skieresz returns for her final year, gunning for her second national title. Juniors Kristen Parrish and Maia Wright and sophomores Erin Doherty and Katrin Engelen are looking to add to the punch that Skieresz brings to drive the women's team back to the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats open the season Sept. 12 at the Irvine Invitational in Irvine, Calif. The Wildcats do not have a home meet this season, but do play up I-10 in Tempe at the Arizona State Invitational Oct. 16.

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