Abdirahman, Skieresz Named Top Pac-10 Athletes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: December 14, 1998
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Tucson, Ariz. (December 14, 1998) -- University of Arizona cross country seniors Abdi Abdirahman and Amy Skieresz were rewarded for their outstanding performances throughout the recent season by the Pacific-10 Conference. The Wildcat duo were both named Pac-10 Cross Country Athletes of the Year. The honors were decided by a vote of the conference's coaches.

This is only the second time in Pac-10 history that two athletes from the same school have won the award in the same year. Oregon's Brad Hudson and Penny Graves completed the feat in 1988. The is the seventh time an Arizona male runner has won the award, the last coming from Martin Keino in 1994. Skieresz is the only UA female to win the honor.

Abdirahman, a native of Somalia who now resides in Tucson, Ariz., opened the season with wins at the Irvine Invitational and the Aztec Invitational. He then went on to win the Pac-10 Championship, as well as the NCAA West Region crown, both over elite fields. Abdirahman capped his season with a second place finish at the NCAA Championships in Lawrence, Kan. On Nov. 23.

Skieresz, who is originally from Westlake Village, Calif, but now resides in Tucson full-time, became the first athlete, male or female, to win the Pac-10 Cross Country award for the fourth straight year. Only former USC men's swimmer Dave Wharton (1988-91) has won the honor four times. Skieresz won the Irvine Invitational, Aztec Invitational, Mountain West Classic and NCAA Pre-Meet early in the season. She then dominated the fields at the Pac-10 Championships and the NCAA West Regional, becoming the first person in history to win both races four times. She finished second at the NCAA Championships while suffering from a severe leg injury. During her four year cross country career, Skieresz won 22 of her 25 outings and never finished lower than second.

"They were by far the most outstanding cross country runners in the conference this season," said Dave Murray, UA's director of track and field and cross country. "It is quite an honor to have one school get both winners of the award. This ends the season on a very positive way for both of them. They are both very hard working people, who put a lot into their running."

Oregon's Bill Dellinger was the Pac-10 men's Coach of the Year, while Stanford's Beth Alford-Sullivan was the women's Coach of the Year.