The Meet: The University of Arizona men's and women's cross country teams travel to the Bay Area for the Stanford Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 2. Hosted by Stanford University, the meet will be held at at the Stanford Cross Country Course in Palo Alto. The women's 5k race begins at 4:50 p.m., and the men's 8k follows at 5:20 p.m.
Who's Going?: Competing for the Arizona women (No. 16 in the nation) will be: Mandee Ash, Kimberly Bates, Jennifer Burris, Tara Chaplin, Erin Doherty, Katrin Engelen, Kristen Parrish and Maia Wright. The men (No. 6) will field a team of: Mike Cramer, Wade Juntunen, Micheil Jones, David Lopez, Jeremy Lyon, Brent Pederson, Tom Prindiville, Steve Smith and Rick Weis. The Wildcats will face some of the top teams in the nation at the meet. Amongst the women's teams will be No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 Arkansas, No. 4 Brigham Young, No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 8 Kansas State and No. 10 Washington. Arizona and No. 2 Stanford will be the top teams on the men's side.
Going Polling: The Arizona men are ranked No. 7 in this week's MONDO Cross Country poll, moving up one spot from the Preseason rankings. The Wildcat women moved from being unranked in the preseason pollto No. 16 in the Finish Lynx poll this week.
On the women's side: Sophomore Tara Chaplin steps into the top slot in the Arizona lineup this season after an excellent freshman season as the No. 2 runner on the squad. Senior Kristen Parrish and junior Katrin Engelen will compete for the No. 2 spot in the Wildcats' The Wildcats have several others returning that will fill out the line-up including senior Maia Wright, and sophomores Erin Doherty and Jennifer Burris. Two redshirt freshmen, Mandee Ash and Kimberly Bates, will also vie for spots in the line-up.
And for the men: After three years of good performances, senior Micheil Jones is ready to step into the No. 1 slot for the Wildcats. Junior David Lopez and sophomore Steve Smith ave run well in practices and control runs and will be right behind Jones. Seniors Jeremy Lyon and Brent Pedersen lead a core of returners including senior Mike White, junior Rick Weis and sophomores Mike Cramer and Tom Prindiville. Sophomore Jeff Bray, a transfer from BYU, and freshman Wade Juntunen will also compete for the Wildcats.
Head Coach Dave Murray: Murray is the dean of coaches at UA, as he is entering his 33nd year. He has coached three NCAA Cross Country champions and more than 100 All-Americans in Track and Field and Cross Country.
Last Meet: The Arizona men and women both took home the titles at the Aztec Invitational, hosted by San Diego State, on Sept. 18. The men were led by Micheil Jones, who won his second straight race, while Tara Chaplin won the race on the women's side.
In Review: The Arizona men's team won the team title at the Asics/UC-Irvine Invitational in Huntington Beach, Calif. The Wildcat women finished second to Arizona State at the meet. Individually, Arizona took home both titles, as Micheil Jones and Tara Chaplin won the first cross country races of their Arizona careers. Jones outdistanced himself from the men's field, winning the 8,000m event in 24:35.20. Chaplin won a tighter race, finishing the 5,000m course in 17:32.10. The Arizona men finished in a tight pack after Jones, with David Lopez, Steve Smith and Brent Pedersen finishing seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively. Tom Prindiville finished 11th. For the women, Katrin Engelen was 10th, Kristen Parrish was 13th, Erin Doherty was 20th and Kimberly Bates was 25th.
Schedule Note: The men's and women's teams will not compete at the Oct. 8 ASU Invitational, as previously scheduled.
No Ordinary Jones: Senior Micheil Jones has the difficult task of replacing last year's No. 1 runner, Abdi Abdirahman, who was one of the best distance runners in UA history. Jones, however, is quite capable himself, as he competed as UA's No. 2 runner last season. During the track and field season, he showed that he has developed into a fine distance runner, running 13:52.46 in the 5,000m at the Cardinal Invitational at Stanford. His time ranks No. 9 in UA history, and it qualified him to run at the NCAA Championships where he finished 20th. Jones also has very good speed, which he showed by finishing third in the 1,500m at the Pac-10 Championships after winning his qualifying heat at the meet. Jones won the first cross country title of his career, the Asics/UCI Invitational, Sept. 11.
Sophomore Sensation: Tara Chaplin had one of the best freshmen seasons in UA history last year when she competed in five NCAA Championship events - '98 XC, '99 Indoor 3,000m and 5,000m, and '99 Outdoor 5,000m and 10,000m. She finished fourth in UA's first four cross country meets of the season, behind only teammate Amy Skieresz. Chaplin finished 12th at the Pac-10 Championshps, 14th at the NCAA West Regional and 64th at the NCAA Championships. During the track and field season, Chaplin earned two All-America honors, finishing 10th in the Indoor 5,000m and 10th in the Outdoor 10,000m. She also won the Pac-10 title in the 5,000m. Chaplin won the first cross country title of her career, the Asics-UCI Invitational, Sept. 6.
Slew of Seniors: Both the Arizona men's and women's cross country teams have several seniors competing for them this year. The women's team is lead by the veteran experience of Kristen Parrish - who has run in the top three for the past three seasons - and Maia Wright - a fifth-year senior who has added quality depth in the past. On the men's side, Jeremy Lyon and Brent Pedersen give the Wildcats much needed experience. Lyon has shown in both track and cross country that he is a solid runner for the Wildcats, and will be near the top of the line-up this year. Pedersen transferred to UA from Hawai'i Pacific last season and was a solid runner, finishing as the Wildcats' No. 5 runner at the NCAA Championships.
Murray's Musings: "It was nice to have a week off because we are going to be running pretty hard in the next couple of weeks. Aside for the next two weeks, we are going to be running in meets that will determine our advancing to the NCAA meet. It is very important that we get to running at the top of our game. Based on the rankings, I think that this is going to be a very tough race. If we get into the top five on the women's side, I think that it would be very good. Individually, I think that there are going to be a lot of the runners who will be going for the national title. On the men's side, our biggest challenge is going to be Stanford. I think that it is going to be an interesting race because Stanford is obviously good, but I think that we are pretty good. Our men have the ability to run with anyone in the nation. The men keep running better as a team in practices, and the women are starting to improves, as well."