TUCSON - The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 5 women's cross country team and two members of the men's cross country squad will compete in the NCAA Championships on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky. The competition will be held at Tom Sawyer State Park. The women's 6,000-meter race will start at 10 a.m. MST while the men's 10,000-meter race will begin at 11:15 a.m.
Arizona's women's squad will compete against Florida State (No. 1), Oregon (No. 2), Iowa State (No. 3), Stanford (No. 4), Michigan (No. 6), Washington (No. 7) and many additional schools.
The men's field consists of Oklahoma State (No. 1), Stanford (No. 2), Iona (No. 3), Wisconsin (No. 4), Texas (No. 5), Oklahoma (No. 6), Colorado (No. 7) and many other teams as well.
"I think that our high goal is to be on the podium, to be in the top 4," head coach James Li said. "That is definitely something we are going to shoot for. I feel that we are really excited and that our ladies are confident, we feel like we'll be able to go there and do what we think we can do. We aren't going into the race hoping we will do well. We have been very consistent this year, we know can only control what we do, we're going to run a very good race but we have no control over what the other teams do. We have to go there and fight and do our best. I'm so proud of the ladies for working hard all year and making substantial improvement."
Representing the men will be senior Stephen Sambu and sophomore Lawi Lalang. Lalang has continued his dominance this year, winning all five races he has competed in. He claimed his second-straight Pac-12 title and second-straight NCAA West Region title. He was also named the USTFCCCA Male West Region Athlete of the Year for the second-straight year. Sambu has finished in second place behind Lalang in all five races the pair has competed in together.
"To be honest, the only time Lawi and Stephen really pushed from the beginning and were somewhat challenged was at the Greater Louisville Classic," Li said. "I think this race will definitely be different, they will have to give 100% effort in this race. There will be a lot of nerves for these guys and a lot of pride as well. I think they will be challenged but we are going to go out there and just race. I'm very confident with our guys; they are in great shape and will be very competitive. I doubt they will be as dominant as they have been and I hope they will be mentally prepared for a tough race."
On the men's side, Arizona has three national titles to its credit: Lalang (2011), Martin Keino (1994) and Aaron Ramirez (1986). On the women's side, Arizona has two national titles to its credit: Tara Chaplin (2001) and Amy Skieresz (1996). The Wildcats' highest team finish is second in 1980. Last season, the squad earned a 19th-place finish.
NCAA.com will air a live broadcast of the meet beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday.