By Jason A. Vrtis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman runner Amy Skieresz finished second at the NCAA cross country championships yesterday, turning out the best showing in school history for a UA woman. Skieresz's finished four seconds behind the national champion.
The UA women finished sixth overall, their second-highest placing ever at the NCAAs in Ames, Iowa. Villanova University's streak of six straight team titles was ended as Providence University, which placed three runners in the top 15, captured the team title. The Wildcats' previous top finish was 10th at last season's championships.
Sophomore Bob Keino, competing as an individual in the men's race, ran to an 11th-place finish to garner All-America honors awarded to the top 25 finishers. University of Arkansas' Godfrey Siamusiye won the men's race, leading his school to the team title. Northern Arizona University finished second.
Keino finished the 10,000-meter men's race in 31:01. As a freshman, Keino placed 44th overall in 31:23 to help last year's men's team to a third-place finish. Keino's brother Martin won last year's individual title.
"Bob ran a strong race," Murray said. "There wasn't much of a distance separating the lead pack at the end."
Skieresz, the Pacific 10 Conference and District VIII champion, covered the 5,000-meter course at Iowa State University in 16 minutes, 55 seconds.
"I am very happy with the way I ran," Skieresz said. "I didn't have an idea what to expect because I'm a freshman. I'm in shock."
University of Wisconsin's Kathy Butler won the women's race in 16:51. With about 800 meters remaining in the race, Butler out-kicked Skieresz and Villanova's Jennifer Rhines, last year's champion, to the finish line up the final hill. In Skieresz's second collegiate race, the University of Illinois Invitational in September, she finished 12 seconds behind Butler.
"I stayed in the second pack and ran my own race," Skieresz said. "I ran a very consistent race and slowly worked my way up."
"For Amy to finish second at the NCAAs is an unbelievable accomplishment for a freshman," UA head coach Dave Murray said. "It will be exciting to see what else she can do over the next three years."
Senior Ann Colonna was the second Wildcat runner to finish, placing 27th overall in 17:51. Last year, Colonna finished third on the team. UA junior Viola Schaffer finished behind Colonna in 29th place in 17:54.
Other UA women and their finishes: senior Lisa Quaintance, 63rd, 18:16; sophomore Virginia Camacho, 101st, 18:32; freshman Emily Nay, 127th, 18:43; and sophomore Tone Bratteng, 166th, 19:24.
The UA men's squad, which finished third at the District VIII championships on Nov. 11, was not selected for an at-large berth and missed the NCAA finals for the first time since 1979.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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