Arizona, which finished 10th at last year's NCAA Championships in Bloomington, Indiana, returns four members of its lineup from last season's final meet, and several other squad members and freshmen make-up one of the top teams UA director of track and field/head cross country coach Dave Murray has had at Arizona.
"We are returning a lot of very good and experienced people this year," said Murray, who is in his 34th season at the helm of the Arizona program. "We lost a few people, but we definitely have some new, young guys who are going to replace them and help us with our depth."
Arkansas, the 1999 team champion, garnered eight of the 16 first-place votes and claimed the top spot in the poll with 392 votes. Stanford had the other eight first-place votes, but was second in the poll with 390. The top-5 was rounded out by Colorado (367), Iona (302) Arizona (301). Wisconsin, Georgetown, North Carolina State, Oregon and Michigan complete the top-10, while in-state rival Arizona State comes in at 11th.
Leading the way for the Wildcats this season will be senior David Lopez, Arizona's top finisher at the NCAA Championships last year in 55th place, and juniors Tom Prindiville, Mike Cramer and Steve Smith. The team's top runner in the first seven meets of 1999, Micheil Jones, finished his eligibility last year, but several new faces and other squad members will look to add depth for the Wildcats.
The Arizona women's team also returns several of its top runners from last season, including three-time track and field All-American Tara Chaplin. The women received five votes in their poll and are ranked 31st in the nation heading into the season.
Both teams open their seasons next Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Purdue Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind.