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Wednesday December 6, 2000

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Cross Country season ends with cold disappointing run

By Jeff Lund

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A sub-par performance in sub-freezing temperatures ended both the UA men's and women's cross country seasons.

In the race that would rival conditions of the Alaskan Iditarod, the season ended for both men's and women's cross country teams. Weather for the NCAA Championships in Ames, Iowa, hit minus-20 degrees during the course of the race.

After strong performances at the Pacific 10 Conference Championships and at the West Regional, nationals didn't go as planed.

"We had a very very good season," head coach Dave Murray said. "We kinda froze up at nationals, literally."

The men's and women's team finished well until nationals, Murray said.

"It was a disadvantage for us running in the cold," he said. "It's the same for teams that run down here in the heat."

Individually, juniors Tara Chaplin and Tom Prindiville stood out for the Wildcat team.

Chaplin - who has been a consistent No. 1 runner for the women's team -peaked at the Pac-10 championships and claimed the title.

Chaplin was slowed by the flu late in the season and never really returned to championship form. The UA women dropped back and settled for a 19th place finish in the nationals.

"She had a great year until nationals," Murray said.

Prindiville was a solid runner all year for the men, then picked it up down the stretch.

Prindiville began the season as a part of a solid top four runners for the men. Going into nationals, Prindiville had raced to the front of a men's team that was supposed to challenge the top teams in the country. But like the women, the men finished below expectations.

"Tom had always been solid," Murray said of Prindiville. "By the end of the season, he came up front and was the No. 1 runner."

Behind the the junior standouts, seniors David Lopez and Katrin Engelen ended their careers for the wildcats in solid fashion. Lopez finished first for the Wildcat men, and Engelen ended up just behind Chaplin in the women's race.

"We are looking forward to next year," Murray said. "We are only losing one runner on each side. Depending on recruiting we will be right back up there."

Jeff Lund can be reached at sports