Louisville, Colo. – The University of Arizona Wildcat men’s and No. 1 women’s cross country team competed at the Pac-12 Championships on Saturday in Louisville, Colo. The University of Colorado hosted the meet in Louisville, which is a suburb of Boulder, at Coal Creek Golf Course. The men ran 8,000 meters and the women ran 6,000 meters. The women’s team claimed the first conference championship in program history.
The women’s team was led by 2013 Scholar Athlete of the Year, senior Elvin Kibet. She took second place with a time of 21:15. She finished nine seconds behind the leader. It is the second-straight year that Kibet has finished in third place or better. In fifth place, sophomore Kayla Beattie posted a time of 21:20. Junior Nicci Corbin’s time of 21:23 was good for sixth place. Freshman Maria Larsson was the fourth finisher for the Wildcats and she took 24th place overall with a time of 22:30. Larsson showed tremendous heart and character to finish where she did. Her legs locked up with about 50 meters remaining, she collapsed with about 10 meters remaining, got back to her feet and gingerly walked across the finish line. The final scorer for the Wildcats was junior Hanna Peterson; she took 32nd place with a time of 22:43. Junior Stephanie Bulder had a time of 23:09 and took 43rd place overall. Senior Erin Menefee’s time of 23:15 was good for 46th place. Sophomore Molly Callahan finished in 65th place with a time of 24:00.
“We are so proud of the ladies,” head coach James .i said. “This whole year they have been doing such a great job in everything they do. They are so focused and to come here in a difficult situation at altitude and against a really good Colorado team on their home course. It was a hard-fought victory and it was a great job by all the girls today.”
The women’s team won with 69 points. Colorado took second place with 75 points. Washington totaled 111 points in third place. Oregon took fourth place with 113 points. Stanford’s 129 points were good for fifth place. Arizona State tallied 138 points and took sixth place; meaning Arizona earns a point in the Territorial Cup Series.
“I’m really happy,” Kibet said. “I wanted to win the whole thing but it was hard in the end with the altitude and everything. Being the scholar athlete of the year is so special and I am really honored. For the team winning the Pac-12 Championship for the first time ever, that’s just amazing. We went into this race and coach Li told us, ‘run with spirit, it’s one thing to run but it is another to run with spirit.’ I kept thinking about that the whole race and I kept telling myself, ‘you can do this, you can do this for the team and for yourself.’ It’s my last Pac-12 Championships because I am a senior. It was great out here and I love it here, I love Boulder.”
On the men’s side, freshman Collins Kibet was the top finisher with a time of 25:39, good for 17th place. Junior Sam Macaluso had a time of 25:54, good for 24th place. Sophomore Jonas Legernes’ time of 26:38 was good for 51st place overall. Junior Kenji Bierig was the fourth finisher for Arizona and 57th finisher overall with a time of 26:51. Sophomore Dylan Hopper had a time of 27:07, taking 59th place. Sophomore Matthew Beer’s time of 28:04 was good for 72nd place. Junior Thomas Valente finished in 73rd place with a time of 28:17. Freshman Travis Thorne finished in 76th place and had a time of 28:40.
Colorado won their third-straight title on the men’s side, totaling 28 points. Oregon finished in second place with 54 points. Stanford’s total of 79 points was good for third place. Arizona State finished in fourth place with 140 points. Washington’s score of 142 was good for fifth place. Arizona finished in eighth place with 194 points; they conceded a point to Arizona State in the Territorial Cup Series.
The NCAA West Regionals are up next for the cross country program. That race will take place on Nov. 15 in Sacramento, Calif. For continued coverage of Arizona Wildcat men’s and women’s cross country, visit ArizonaWildcats.com and follow @ArizonaTrack on Twitter.
Video interview of James Li