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Wednesday November 15, 2000

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Running down a dream

By Jeff Lund

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Prindiville emerges as Arizona No. 1 runner

A new face is running in front for the Arizona men's cross country team.

Senior Tom Prindiville has emerged as a cross country standout after impressive finishes at both the Pacific 10 Conference Championships and at the NCAA West Regional Championships.

"He has been one of the mainstays in this program," UA head coach Dave Murray said. "He has been solid. There is no question this is his best year in cross country."

Prindiville, a graduate of De La Salle high school in Concord, Calif., probably never thought that he would be a runner in college.

While his first love was basketball, he fell in love with cross country in high school though he had been running since fifth grade.

"I liked basketball a lot," the senior admitted. "In high school, I knew cross country was my thing."

Cross country and UA's engineering program lured Prindiville to the Arizona, where he struggled in his first season as a Wildcat.

Three years later, Prindiville is no longer in the back of the pack athletically.

"There is a fire inside, some have it, others don't," Prindiville said. "(When I race) I think about beating everyone around me."

Just this past weekend, the senior finished third overall in the NCAA West Regionals and helped the Wildcats earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Finals, which will take place on Nov. 20 in Ames, Iowa.

"Going from the top dog in high school to back in the pack was tough." Prindiville said

However, as the Prindiville matured both academically and athletically, things began to go his way.

A mechanical engineering major, the senior earned the Mary P. Roby Academic Achievement Award for his work in the classroom.

"He is an extremely hard worker, a great teammate and a great student," Murray said.

Cross country isn't Prindiville's only sport, though.

During cross country's off season, Prindiville is a member of the UA track and field team.

He finished seventh in the 1,500-meter dash at the Pac-10 Track and Field Championships last year.

"He trains very hard," Murray said. "I expected him to be a solid No. 4 runner, but each week he has picked it up."

All the senior's hard work has put Prindiville at the forefront of the UA team, a squad that has a chance to compete for an NCAA title..

"There are three teams that are head and shoulders above the rest," Prindiville said. "There are seven teams in the mix, hopefully we can finish in the top five."