See how they run...
Katherine K. Gardiner
Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA freshmen Tara Chaplin (left) and Jennifer Burris and are two of the 10 new recruits to the 1998 cross country team. Burris and Chaplin, both Foot Locker National Finalists, are part of the largest recruiting class in cross country history.
The University of Arizona men's and women's cross country teams are looking for a way to make it back to the NCAA Tournament this year. The biggest recruiting class in school history is a good way to start.
"We have the largest number of new people that we have ever had, women especially," Arizona cross country head coach Dave Murray said.
To help runners such as senior Amy Skieresz and junior Kristen Parrish, Murray has brought in 10 new women recruits. Freshmen Tara Chaplin and Jennifer Burris, Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo senior transfer Claire Becker and junior transfer Allison Phears from Boston College were all brought in to bolster the lineup and to compete immediately.
Chaplin, from Montpelier, Vt., comes to Arizona off an impressive senior year in which she posted the second fastest two-mile time in the country. Chaplin was also a Foot Locker National Finalist, which means she was at least ranked among the top 32 runners at the end of the year.
"Our (Chaplin and Burris') goal is to crack the top seven," Chaplin said. "The main thing is that both of us want to be on the traveling squad."
Not to be outdone, freshman Burris of Chino Hills, Calif., was also a Foot Locker National Finalist.
"Being a Foot Locker National Finalist gives you confidence at this level due to the fact that you know you have done it before and can compete at a top level," she said.
Chaplin and Burris are trying to adapt to an environment that they didn't even expect to encounter.
"The practices are a lot more intense on this level," Chaplin said. "In high school, you do a lot of solo running, but the good thing is, is that you run with a team in college, which makes you run a lot faster."
On the men's side, the only prominent recruit landed was freshman Steve Smith, yet another Foot Locker National Finalist, also out of Chino Hills. He will look to crack the top seven this year and push the men's team back into the NCAA Tournament.
"All of the recruits that came in this year have a chance to crack the top seven and be on our traveling squad," Murray said.
Mike Jenkins can be reached via e-mail at Mike.Jenkins@