Who's Going?: Competing for the Arizona women will be: Mandee Ash, Kimberly Bates, Claire Becker, Jennifer Burris, Tara Chaplin, Erin Doherty, Katrin Engelen, Kristen Parrish and Maia Wright. The men 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 compete against teams from UC Irvine, Arizona State, Northern Arizona, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, USC and several other West Coast schools.
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 has been a solid runner the past three years for the Wildcats and is expected to be the No. 2 runner this season. The Wildcats have several others returning that will fill out the line-up including seniors Maia Wright and Claire Becker, junior Katrin Engelen 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 will be right with him, challenging the senior for the top slot. Seniors Jeremy Lyon and Brent Pedersen lead a core of returners including senior Mike White, junior Rick Weis and sophomores Mike Cramer, Tom Prindiville and Steve Smith. 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.
No Ordinary Jones: Senior Michiel 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 for 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.
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.
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 - Maia Wright - a fifth-year senior who has added quality depth in the past - and Claire Becker - a transfer who stepped up for the Wildcats last season. 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: "Basically, this is going to be like the first meet of any year for us, we are just going to see where we are. In our practices and in our control runs, it looks like we are going to have five or six runners who are going to be running in a pack at the front. Our depth is a lot stronger on the men's side than on the women's side. Right now, I don't think there is any question that Micheil (Jones) and Tara (Chaplin) are our two leaders. That is different from last year, when we did not really have people going after No. 1 because of having Amy (Skieresz) and Abdi (Abdirahman). Katrin (Engelen), Kristen (Parrish) and David (Lopez) are all really looking strong. Jennifer Burris, Mike (Cramer) and Brent (Pedersen) have made a lot of improvements and all look to be really good at this point. On the men's side, our strength is going to be having five or six guys all finish close to each other at the front of the pack."