TUCSON - Freshman Lawi Lalang won the inaugural Pac-12 Cross Country Championship race in Litchfield Park, Ariz. on Saturday. Hosted by Arizona State, the first Pac-12 Championship was held at Wigwam Resort, just outside of Phoenix.
"I think the men in general, did well," head coach James Li said. "We came here knowing that we lack some depth but we got Patrick Zacharias and Kenji Bierig running a much better race and a couple of guys in the end and we actually managed to beat ASU. Lawi Lalang, as I always say, right now he is in a class of his own. He just has to keep his head in there and keep training and he will be ready to show at nationals how great of a runner he is."
Lalang won his fourth-straight race and collected his fourth-straight course record. Coming into the meet, he was averaging 32-second wins over his closest opponent. Today, he topped second-place finisher Chris Derrick of Stanford by a mere eight seconds. Lalang clocked an 8K time of 22:37 with Derrick finishing in 22:45.
Lalang won Arizona's 11th individual conference cross country title. Arizona's last winner was Robert Cheseret in 2005. Lalang's winning time of 22:37 is the fastest winning time in conference history since 1969.
"(Staying with the pack and then breaking away), I think that is one of the strategies I need to work on as we work toward the 10K right now," Lalang said. "(Coming in to the race) I was confident. The course is nice and flat. Right now we have been running on hills but today it was a somewhat flat course so it was nice. I'm prepared for any type of course, whether it has hills or is flat, I'm okay with that."
The No. 6 Colorado Buffaloes won the men's team race with 46 points. No. 4 Stanford was second with 53 points and No. 23 Oregon rounded out the top three with 93 points. The Arizona men finished eighth with 190 points and defeated No. 25 ASU (ninth place) to secure the State Farm Territorial Cup point.
Sophomore Patrick Zacharias was Arizona's second finisher in 24th place. He clocked a time of 23:55. Freshman Kenji Bierig was 47th, crossing the finish line with a time of 24:38. Sophomore Noe Ramirez earned a 69th-place finish with an 8,000-meter time of 25:57. Redshirt freshman Sam Macaluso rounded out the Arizona scorers in 72nd place with a run of 26:14. Freshman Dylan Souza also competed for UA on Saturday. He finished 74th with a time of 27:04.
No. 16 Colorado won the women's team race with 50 points. No. 2 Washington was second with 71 points and No. 8 Stanford rounded out the top three with 73 points. No. 5 Arizona finished fifth with 126 points and defeated Arizona State (sixth) to secure the State Farm Territorial Cup point. Katie Flood of Washington won the individual women's race with a 6K time of 19:32.
"On the women's side it was not our best day, for sure," Li said. "There are some disappointments but it happens. You get some people running great and some not so well. We have to move on; we have regionals coming up and then NCAA Championships, still two big meets. We told our girls to keep their heads up high and get ready for the next two races. We're still going to be there and we are still the same good team."
Junior Jen Bergman was Arizona's top finisher in sixth place. She clocked a 6,000-meter time of 20:00. Sophomore Elvin Kibet earned a 13th-place finish with a run of 20:25. Junior Elizabeth Apgar was the third Wildcat to cross the line in 19th place. She recorded a time of 20:32. Senior Hanna Henson finished 28th with her 6K time of 20:52. Freshman Nicci Corbin rounded out the Arizona scoring five in 38th place with her time of 21:09.