By Drew Sibr
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Arizona men's and women's cross country teams anticipate a return to the top tomorrow at the Pacific 10 Conference Championships, hosted by Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif.
The Wildcat men, ranked 11th in the Division I coaches' poll, will be attempting to win the Pac-10 title for the first time since 1991. The 5,000-meter race through the Stanford golf course will begin at 3:30 p.m.
Led by All-America senior Martin Keino, the 1991 Pac-10 cross country champion and athlete of the year as a sophomore, Arizona will have to beat the Cardinal on their home course in order to claim the conference title.
"It will be between us and Stanford for the men's championship," UA coach Dave Murray said.
Murray, in his 27th year as the UA cross country coach, is no stranger to success at the Pac-10s. He was named the Pac-10 coach of the year in 1983, '84, '86, '87 and '91 after leading Arizona to the conference championship. This season, he boasts the conference's top runner and perhaps his best team ever.
"Martin (Keino) has to be considered the overwhelming favorite to win the (Pac-10 individual) title," Murray said.
Keino, who hails from Eldoret, Kenya, has been the top collegiate finisher in all four races Arizona has competed in this season.
Bob Keino, Martin's younger brother, has finished each race as Arizona's No. 2 runner this season, and strengthens the experienced lineup that includes sophomores Margarito Casillas and Jon Pillow, juniors Art Jimenez and Jeff Haynes, and senior Bryan Winter.
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With host team and favorite Stanford expected to easily win the women's team title, the 11th-ranked Arizona women's team will likely be battling UCLA, Washington and Oregon for second place in the conference.
Wildcat senior Suzanne Castruita, the seventh-place finisher at the 1993 Pac-10 championships, should compete for the title tomorrow.
UCLA's Karen Hecox, the NCAA 3,000 meter champion in track, is the favorite to win the women's cross country title tomorrow. She is undefeated this season and finished six seconds ahead of the UA's Castruita at the Oct. 1 Stanford Invitational.
Murray said All-America senior Karen Bennet may be inserted into the Wildcat lineup for the first time this season tomorrow.
Bennett, a St. Catherine, Jamaica native, holds the UA 800 meter indoor and outdoor track records, but has not run cross country since she left Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan. Team doctors performed a bone scan that will determine Bennett's availability for tomorrow, said Murray.
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