Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
XC Women Take Second, Lalang Wins Pac-12 Title
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 27, 2012
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 27, 2012

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 Santa Clarita, Calif. -  University of Arizona Wildcat men's and women's began the championship portion of the season on Saturday at Robinson Ranch Golf Course in Santa Clarita, Calif. The women's team earned a runner-up finish with junior Elvin Kibet taking third place. The men's team finished in seventh place while sophomore Lawi Lalang and senior Stephen Sambu earned another 1-2 finish.

Kibet took third place with a time of 20:11 in the 6,000-meter race. Kibet has been UA's top finisher in each of the four races she has competed in this year. Senior Jen Bergman finished in seventh place with a time of 20:25. Sophomore Nicci Corbin clocked a time of 20:45, good for 18th place. Junior Amanda Russell finished in 20th place with a time of 20:48. Senior Elizabeth Apgar's time of 20:49 was good for 21st place.

Additionally, sophomore Stephanie Bulder (35th; 21:20), sophomore Clea Formaz (40th; 21:35), junior Erin Menefee (43rd; 21:42), junior Hannah Moen (61st; 22:10) and sophomore Molly Callahan (87th; 22:46) competed for the Wildcats on Saturday.

Oregon's women took first place with 47 points. Arizona came in second with 69 points. Stanford finished in third with 82 points. Washington totaled 92 points, good for fourth place. Colorado's 124 points was good for fifth place. Arizona's women earned a point in the Territorial Cup Series, finishing ahead of Arizona State (ninth place).

"I went into this race feeling very confident," Kibet said. "This past week I was just preparing mentally. I knew I was physically fit and my coach told me that I am just as good as the other top athletes in the conference. I went with the leading pack and I felt really good. I led for a bit but I couldn't kick as hard in the end and I lost it but I'm still happy with how I ran. Our team goal was to finish in third and we got second place so that is really exciting."

"I am pleased with how the women finished today," head coach James Li said. "It was tough because we were really close to winning, but Oregon had a great race. Our ladies ran well, we were hoping for a win but we didn't quite get it. We came in and still performed really well. Finishing in second and beating all of those other schools is remarkable. I'm very happy with Jen and Elvin, this was Elvin's best finish in the conference championships. Elvin has been getting better every year and I just told Jen how proud I am of her."

Lalang won the 8,000-meter race with a time of 22:49, claiming his second-straight conference title. Lalang has yet to lose a cross country race in his career at Arizona. Sambu finished right behind Lalang, clocking a time of 22:50 for second place. The pair led the race the whole way, finishing in a dead sprint to the end with Lalang edging Sambu at the line.

"It was a tough race," Lalang said. "It was really windy which was tough, but everybody had to deal with it so that made it fair. Stephen has been kicking really well at the end lately so I was ready for that. He ran a really great race today. I am very happy to win the Pac-12 Championship again."

Sophomore Kenji Bierig took 53rd place with a time of 25:06. Freshman Nathan Kandie finished in 61st place, posting a time of 25:20. Sophomore Sam Macaluso's time of 25:55 was good for 73rd place. Sophomore Thomas Valene finished in 74th place, posting a time of 25:59. Senior Rory McLeod posted a time of 27:01, taking 79th place.

Colorado claimed their second-straight men's team title, totaling 49 points. Stanford took second place with 82 points. Oregon finished in third, totaling 105 points. Arizona State's total of 109 points was good for fourth place. UCLA finished in fifth place, posting 113 points. Arizona took seventh with 166 points, losing a point to Arizona State in the Territorial Cup Series.

"The beginning of the race was really slow," Sambu said. "It was easy the first 5,000 meters and then Lawi and I started pushing it the last 3K. It was really good, we ran together the whole way, from the beginning. (Heading into regionals) I'm feeling very confident and I know Lawi is too. Regionals and NCAA Championships are 10,000-meter races and the extra 2,000 meters is good, I like it, so I feel very confident."

"What can you say about Lawi and Stephen?" Li said. "They have great talent and great work ethics and they are really competitive. It'll take a lot to even try and get on the heels of those two guys, they did great. Our men's team has the talent on the team, we just have to come through and compete better and do a better job."

The Wildcats will return to action for the NCAA West Regionals on November 9th in Seattle, Wash.