By Kyle Kensing
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 10, 2004
The UA men's and women's cross country teams tune-up for the 2004 season and get their first look at a Pacific 10 Conference competitor tomorrow at Randolph Park, in their lone home meet of the season.
The Dave Murray Invitational pits UA against in-state rival Arizona State, and begins at 5:30 p.m.
Though team scores will not be kept, the race will give both Wildcat teams a barometer for where they stand in the upcoming campaign.
Head coach James Li, in his third season at Arizona, said he is looking forward to seeing his runners in action against a good Arizona State team before competition starts Sept. 25 in Minneapolis for the men, and Oct. 8 in Tempe for the women.
"(The meet) is a good opportunity to evaluate," Li said. "Our redshirts will have a chance to run, and (the coaches) will be able to see (the team's) performance (in competition)."
Sophomore Robert Cheseret paces the UA men's team, while returning All-American senior Beth Hoge leads the women. Cheseret, the NCAA 5,000-meter champion during the spring track and field season, won his first two cross country meets last season - including the 2003 Dave Murray Invitational - and managed to finish third or better in every meet last fall prior to the NCAA Championships, when a mid-race fall knocked him back in the pack.
Both Cheseret and Hoge should provide key performances for the Wildcat squads this week and throughout the season, Coach Li said.
For juniors Aaron Aguayo and Amy Hastings, the men and women Sun Devils have a pair of All-American runners leading the way.
The Sun Devils are among the squads the UA will challenge for the Pac-10 crowns in 2004. The UA men are looking to improve upon a fourth place finish in the conference last season, and the women from sixth.
Runners from Central Arizona College and Pima Community College will also compete, but the main focus lies on UA and ASU.