Murray: Arizona track team 'unofficial Pac-10 champion'

By Ryan Gray

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The UA track team is "the unofficial Pac-10 champion."

So said Coach Dave Murray after his team won both classes of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Championships in Reno, Nev., this weekend.

The men finished above second place Utah State and third place UCLA with 107 points. The women topped their field and finished with 101 points, 13 1/2 more than ASU.

A legitimate argument can be made for the Wildcats being the team to beat in the Pacific 10 Conference this season.

Seven Pac-10 teams competed this weekend at the Bill Cosby Indoor Track with the UA coming out on top. Oregon State, Washington State, and Southern Cal were not in attendance.

"For us to go in there and beat UCLA, Washington, Stanford, Cal (ASU and Oregon), it was a major victory in terms of a 'conference championship'," Murray said.

All this happened despite the team being sore and tired. In fact, runners Anson Watts and Akeem Akinremi were forced to withdraw from their events because of cramps.

"We're really proud of the way the team competed," Murray said on their desire. "They really fought for the win.

"The kids really came to compete."

Look no further for examples.

Seven Wildcats won events Saturday at the Bill Cosby Indoor Track.

Viola Shaffer qualified for the NCAA Championships in March with a time of 17:03.69 in the 5000m. Teammate Suzanne Castruita, who finished second in 17:004.06, also qualified.

David Loshonkohl won the 35 pound weight throw with a qualifying distance of 68-feet, 3 1/4 inches.

Rebecca Butt (high jump), Leo Simmons and Michelle Johnson (55 meter hurdles), Felicia Lane (55 meter dash), and Luther Kopf (800 meters) were the other winners.

In addition, the men's and women's distance medley relay teams won with times of 10:05.54 and 11:53.00.

Freshman Bob Keino finished second in the mile run to California's Richie Boulet, defending Pac-10 champion and one of the best distance runners in the nation, said Murray.

"Bob Keino looked absolutely super," the coach said.

However the intangibles were key in the team victories.

"I thought what really won the meet was all the third, fourth and fifth place finishes,'' Murray said on the vital points earned for the team competition.

Murray joined the Wildcats in the winner's circle, by being named MPSF's Men's Coach of the Year by his counterparts.

"That's not as important as what the team accomplished," Murray said.

UA will return to action next weekend when they travel to South Bend, Ind., to compete in the Notre Dame Alex Wilson Invitational.

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