TUCSON - The University of Arizona Wildcat men’s and No. 7 women’s cross country teams made their 2013 season debut on Saturday in Flagstaff, Ariz. The women’s squad earned a first-place finish at the George Kyte Classic while the men’s squad took third place. The NCAA DI competitors and other competitors ran together, however, the DI teams and competitors were scored and separated in the results.
“It was very stormy here,” head coach James Li said. “The races were delayed and it’s still raining really bad right now. The guys were delayed by about an hour and the women were pushed back by about the 45 minutes.”
Sophomore Kayla Beattie, a transfer from Iowa, had a great start to her Arizona career, winning the 6,000-meter race with a time of 16:47.2 and her average time per mile was 5:40.3. Fellow newcomer to the Wildcats, freshman Maria Larsson was next to cross the finish line. Her time of 16:52.4 was good for second place overall and she averaged 5:42.1 per mile. The Wildcats third finisher was junior Stephanie Bulder, she finished in eighth place with a time of 17:33.0. Junior Hanna Peterson’s time of 17:35.5 was good for ninth place overall. Sophomore Molly Callahan was the fifth scorer for the Wildcats, she took 13th place and posted a time of 17:53.9. Freshman McKenna Gaffney also ran for the Wildcats and finished in 26th place overall with a time of 18:44.6.
The women’s team won with 33 points, Northern Arizona totaled 36 points for second place, Arizona State took third place with 51 points and Grand Canyon finished in fourth with 115 points.
“We expected those two (Beattie and Larsson) to finish that high,” Li said. “They have been super additions for us this year. They have shown great strength in training and the times they ran here are very impressive. They took 1-2 by a very significant margin as well (the third place finisher had a time of 17:12.4). Hanna Peterson improved and as a group we are looking pretty good. If we want to be as good as we were last year, and I think we are capable of being even better than last year, we need to have our fifth runners close the gap and improve. At the end of the day, I think we will have a really good team. Overall, it was a positive day even with the gloomy weather. We’ll stay here tonight, have some team bonding and then head back to Tucson tomorrow after a long run."
The men’s race was first on the day and the UA men were led by freshman Collins Kibet, the brother of fellow Wildcat Elvin Kibet. He earned a fourth-place finish overall in the 8,000-meter race with a time of 25:01.2 and an average of 5:02.7 per mile. Freshman Matthew Beer finished in 15th place with a time of 26:28.6. Freshman Travis Thorne’s time of 26:54.6 was good for 19th place. Sophomore Dylan Hopper came in 21st place and clocked a time of 27:01.7. Jonas Legernes posted a time of 27:03.8 and finished 23rd overall and fifth among Wildcats. Junior Braden Timpe (27:45.1; 24th), freshman Brendan Tinoco (27:45.5; 25th), Jeff Gautreau (28:08.0; 27th) and Michael Cox (28:58.9; 28th) also competed for the UA men.
“The guys look like they have some work to do,” Li said. “Collins (Kibet) did well, he took fourth place in his first ever collegiate race. He looked pretty good. After Collins, the whole group needs to get better. Those guys need to improve so our team has more depth. We had improvements from last year but if we want to compete at the national level we need to get better.”
Northern Arizona’s men won with 25 points, Arizona State took second place with 40 points, Arizona’s 73 points were good for third place and Grand Canyon finished with 120 points and took fourth place.
For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat men’s and women’s cross country, visit ArizonaWildcats.com and follow @ArizonaTrack on twitter.