After holding out their top runners from competition at last week's ASU Invitational, the Arizona men's and women's cross country teams return to full strength for big meets tomorrow.
The No. 6 men's team looks to make a final push before postseason competition begins, traveling to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Chili Pepper Invitational, hosted by top-ranked Arkansas.
The meet will be the first time the Wildcat men run a 10,000-meter course this season. Arizona head coach James Li held his top seven runners out of the ASU Invitational to prepare for the extra 2,000 meters from all previous races this season.
The increase in distance and the elite competition will give the meet a postseason atmosphere. The No. 1 Razorbacks, No. 11 Texas El-Paso and Alabama headline the field of 34 teams set to take off at 6 a.m.
The men's team faced similar competition Sept. 30 at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind. The Wildcats won that race, defeating ranked opponents including then-No. 1 Wisconsin.
Leading the way for the men's team will be junior Robert Cheseret, who excelled last year in 10,000-meter races.
Cheseret finished second in the 2004 NCAA West Regionals, the first 10-kilometer race of that year and finished ninth overall in the NCAA Championships.
Junior-college transfer Obed Mutanya has had a terrific season for the Wildcats this year, placing in the top 10 in his two races, but will face a challenge in his first NCAA Division I 10,000 race.
The Arizona women's team heads to Terre Haute, Ind., for the Pre-NCAA Invitational, hosted by Indiana State.
This will be the Wildcats' largest and toughest race of the year. Included in the 69 teams scheduled to run tomorrow are nine of the nation's top 10 teams.
No. 3 Stanford and No. 4 BYU will run against Arizona in the first of two heats. The elite competition should also help prepare the team for their postseason races.
Sophomore and team captain Emily McGregor will lead the young Wildcats with senior Fanice Chepkorir after sitting out the ASU Invitational.
Indiana State will also host the NCAA Championships Nov. 21.
Li will travel with the men's team to Arkansas, while assistant coach Amy Skieresz-Wilson will travel with the women's squad.
- Information taken from www.arizonaathletics.com.