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Thursday October 5, 2000

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Cold Conditions await cross country teams

By Francisco Merced

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Cold and wet - these are the conditions predicted this afternoon in South Bend, Ind. for the Notre Dame Invitational.

During the anticipated drizzle the No. 10 and No. 14 ranked men's and women's cross country teams will compete against a field including powerhouses Stanford, North Carolina State and host Notre Dame.

What may be even more significant than the weather for the Wildcats will be the absence of women's No. 1 runner junior Tara Chaplin.

"She's raced so many times," head coach Dave Murray said in reference to Chaplin's season from last year, which including participating in the Olympic Trials. "We wanted to take a little pressure off of her and give someone else a little more experience with big-time competition."

Chaplin has won the individual title in both meets she has raced in this year.

The move to leave Chaplin in Tucson has bumped senior Katrin Engelen into the top spot.

"There's not much difference for me," Engelen said. "Of course, with Tara not here I have to step up."

Meanwhile, in Tucson, Chaplin will use the well-deserved rest to prepare for next week's Pre-NCAA Invitational.

"(I'm going) to take a little break and stay fresh for the bigger meets at the end of the season," Chaplin said.

On the men's side Murray is focused on getting another solid outing from the 10th ranked team.

"We're definitely going for a top-3 finish," Murray said.

Senior David Lopez is expecting another good showing from the team, but cautions the championship meets are still to come.

"We're getting our stuff together for the bigger meets at the end of the season," Lopez said.

With temperatures ranging in the 40s and precipitation most likely to occur, the weather conditions may play a factor in today's race, but this is nothing new for the Wildcats. Two weeks ago UA ran in the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn., a race that has prepared Arizona for today's event.

"It was cold in Minnesota, so we're kind of use to it," Lopez said. "Hopefully it won't snow."

No matter what the weather conditions, Murray wants to see continual improvement from both the men's and women's teams as the season progresses.

"We did so well last week, this meet is not as important for seeding purposes," Murray said in referring to the end of season at-large berths for the NCAA Championship.