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Wildcat Runners Head to Pac-10 Championships
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 10/30/2002
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 30, 2002

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Up Next: The UA men's and women's cross country teams travel to Los Angeles, Calif. for the Pac-10 Championships on Saturday, November 2. The meet will be hosted by the UCLA Bruins at the Brookside Golf Course. The women's 6,000-meter race will begin at 9:30 a.m. PT, followed by the men's 8,000-meter race at 10:30 a.m. PT The Wildcat women placed second and the men finished fourth at last year's meet.

Who's Going?: The Wildcats will be taking seven women and eight men to the meet this weekend. Traveling for the women will be: Jen Ford, Adrienne Goeller, Nicole Gurnicz, Michi Hirakawa-Wong, Susan Mortensen, Jenny Sears and Robin Tierney. The men's squad will include Mark Anderson, Eric Bohn, Kevin Engelhardt, Kyle Goklish, Wade Juntunen, Josh Ludwig, Craig Pansing and Aaron Powell. The UA men will be competing against No. 1 Stanford, No. 5 Oregon and No. 25 Arizona State, including the rest of the Pac-10. The women's team will face several ranked teams, as well, including No. 2 Stanford, No. 17 Arizona State, No. 19 UCLA and No. 25 Washington.

Fast Forward: Looking ahead into postseason competition, the Wildcats will head to the NCAA Western Region Championships in Palo Alto, Calif. on Saturday, November 16. This meet will determine which teams and individuals qualify to compete at the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships later in November. The UA women finished second at last year's meet held in Tucson, while the men finished sixth.

Regular Season Highlights: The UA men's and women's cross country teams have grown and developed a lot as the season has progressed. The UA women continue to adjust to their youth and gain experience in collegiate competition. The men have a little more experience, but they continue to grow and work together as they take the steps toward success.

The men have placed second at the Aztec Invitational and the ASU Invitational to record their best finishes. The women's best team finish was fourth at the ASU Invitational. Both the men and women knocked off two ranked teams at the ASU Invite, with the men beating the then-No.23 Arizona State Sun Devils and the women beat then-No.17 Northern Arizona.

2002 Season Outlook The 2002 Cross Country season is the dawn of a new era for the University of Arizona Wildcats. The men's and women's teams head into the season with a new and fresh look. The biggest addition to the 2002 version of the Wildcat cross country teams is that of new head coach James Li. Li comes to the Wildcats from Washington State University, where he coached for eight years between cross country and track and field. The new leadership of Coach Li is sure to keep the great running tradition at Arizona alive and well.

This year's women's cross country team will have quite a different look from last year's squad. Nine of the twelve team members are true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. "We are going through a major transition with a group of very young women. It is going to be a year to gain experience and to start a new training system, while making an effort to carry on with our tradition here at Arizona," commented Coach Li.

The young team is expected to be led by junior Beth Hoge, who ran as a solid No. 2 runner last year for the Wildcats. Hoge played an important role in helping the team to a fourth-place finish at the 2001 NCAA Championships. Along with Hoge, senior Nicole Gurnicz will be an integral part of the women's squad. Gurnicz helped the Wildcats out a lot last year being one of the top seven runners. Hoge and Gurnicz will be followed by a lot of talented and young freshmen.

On the men's side, the Wildcats return a few more members of last year's squad than the women. The transition is the same for the Arizona men, but some of the team cohesiveness is already there. "The fundamentals we are facing is with a new coach and a new system. We have a group of athletes who are really talented, but are still very young and somewhat inexperienced," explained Coach Li.

The team will be led by junior Mark Anderson and senior Kyle Goklish. Both were members of the team that competed in last year's NCAA Championships. The Wildcats also have high hopes in Eric Bohn, Josh Ludwig, Wade Juntunen and Matt McInvale. According to Coach Li, if everyone steps up to meet the challenge, this team could perform quite well this season.

As the 2002 cross country season dawns on the Wildcats, one of the major goals will be to get everyone some valid experience in collegiate cross country and to perform the best of everyone's ability. Although this is considered a transition year for the Wildcats, they will show the perserverance and dedication that is attributed to the UA tradition.

Follow this Fellow: Junior Mark Anderson has been the backbone to the UA men's cross country team this far. Anderson has led the Wildcats in every meet to date. Leadership is nothing new to the Naval R.O.T.C. member, as it is a part of his daily routine. Anderson has been a consistent leader for the Wildcats since he joined the team as a freshman in 2000.

Anderson has been a consistent force for the UA men so far in the 2002 season. At the Aztec Invitational, he was responsible for breaking up a sweep of the top five places by the then-ranked No. 5 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Anderson placed fifth in that meet with a time of 25:46. He had another strong performance in the team's second meet of the year at the Roy Griak Invitational. Anderson was the only runner on the men's team to place in the top 100 runners. He finished 54th with a time of 25:10.8. He had one of his most impressive showings at the ASU Invitational where he placed second overall in 24:17. He trailed the leader by only three seconds. He was 66th at the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. He finished with a time of 25:07.3. As the season continues on, Anderson will continue to be one of the Wildcat's greatest strengths and will have an impact in the conference and regional races in November.

Freshmen Frenzy: If it seems like the every runner on the UA women's cross country team is designated a true freshman or redshirt freshman, it's because it is true for a majority of the team. Nine of the twelve women on the roster are freshmen, and the five scoring runners in all meets to date have all been freshmen. The Wildcats' youth may seem like a disadvantage to most other teams, but the Arizona women are using it to their advantage. This season, the UA women are able to gain the experience and strength they will need to be a conference and national powerhouse in the future.

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