The University of Arizona men's and women's cross country teams begin their 2000 campaign Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Purdue Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind. The Wildcats will face host school Purdue, along with contentions from Butler, DePaul, Iowa, and Illinois (men only). The women run their 6,000-meter race at 9:15 a.m. (CDT), and the men's competition follows at 10 a.m. Weather in West Lafayette is expected to be excellent for race day with highs in the upper 70s under partly cloudy skies.
Both the men's and women's teams will send nine runners to the first couple of meets, including this one. Competing for the Arizona women will be: Kimberly Bates, Jennifer Burris, Tara Chaplin, Erin Doherty, Katrin Engelen, Nicole Gurnicz, Harisimran Khalsa, Beth Hoge and Andrea Schwartz. The men will field a team of: Andrew Carlson, Mike Cramer, Kevin Engelhardt, Mike Howard, David Lopez, Matt McInvale, Tom Prindiville, Steve Smith and Rick Weis.
For the Women:
All five of the Arizona women's finishers at the 1999 NCAA Championships will compete for the Wildcats this season. Led by junior Tara Chaplin, Arizona's No. 1 runner last year, the Wildcats are a deep and talented team from 1-9 in the running order. Senior Katrin Engelen qualified for the 2000 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 10,000m and has carried her fine running streak in the cross country season. Juniors Erin Doherty and Jennifer Burris were both solid contributors in the team's top-4 last year and are in great shape again. Four newcomers and another returnee add more depth to the Wildcats' squad this season, too. Sophomore Kimberly Bates was a quality No. 5-6 runner last year and will help in that capacity again. Sophomore Nicole Gurnicz transferred during the off-season from Boise State and gives the Wildcats another solid runner with collegiate experience. Sophomore Harisimran Khalsa and freshmen Beth Hoge and Andrea Schwartz will also push for spots in the top seven that will travel to future meets.
And the Men:
Arizona finished 10th at last year's NCAA Championships, and four of the top five runners from that race return to the team this year. Senior David Lopez was the team's No. 2 runner last season and is poised to fill the role of the departed Micheil Jones, although juniors Steve Smith and Mike Cramer will have plenty to say (with their feet) in the race for the team's top spot. Juniors Tom Prindiville and Rick Weis has shown in fall practice he is capable of running with the front pack, and four freshmen will be amongst the challengers for the Wildcats. Andrew Carlson, Mike Howard, Kevin Engelhardt and Matt McInvale form one of the top freshmen classes in the nation this season with a wealth of distance running ability. With the veteran core and crop of quality freshmen runners, the Wildcats will once again be one of the top teams in the nation.
The Wildcat men began the season ranked No. 5 in the Mondo NCAA Men's Division I Cross Country poll, as voted on by the U.S. Cross Country Coaches Association. Arkansas led the poll eight first-place votes and 392 total. Stanford came in second, also with eight first-place votes, with 390 votes. The top-5 rounded out with Colorado (367), Iona (302) and the Wildcats (301). The Arizona women are 31st, in the receiving votes column, of the FinishLynx NCAA Women's Division I Cross Country poll.
Arizona Head Coach Dave Murray:
The dean of Arizona coaches, Dave Murray (Arizona 65, 68) begins his 34th season as a head coach at Arizona. He has been at the helms of the men's cross country program since 1968, and the women's program has been under his direction since 1976. Murray has also been the head track and field coach since 1982, and his one of the most respected coaches in the nation. Murray has 146 All-Americans to his credit, 106 in track and field, 40 in cross country.
"This meet is going to be a good chance for us to see where we are in terms of our conditioning and against competition other than ourselves. We have a lot of people back on both teams, and they give us a very solid core of runners. But we also have a number of talented newcomers who are really making an impact for us, some who I think are going to be in our top four or five this year. Most of the kids came in this year in very good condition, so I think that we are going to be very race-ready from the start. Basically, this is just going to be a good chance to get out and run in a real race."