Wildcat Women Earn Automatic Bid to NCAA Cross Country Championships

Nov. 10, 2001

TUCSON, Ariz - The University of Arizona women's cross country team came up with just enough strength to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. They finished second at the NCAA West Regional at Randolph Golf Course here in Tucson, Ariz. The men are hopeful that they did enough during the season to secure an at-large bid after finishing sixth at the meet.

Tara Chaplin led the women with her dominating 1st place finish. She outdistanced Pac-10 Champion Lauren Fleshman of Stanford by twelve seconds to win the meet. 'I ran stronger every race. I'm not burned out and am looking forward to the national championship,' said Chaplin after the race. She finished the 6,000-meter course in 20:40.1. Arizona finished second with 81 points to Stanford University's 39. The Wildcats edged Arizona State's 85 points for the automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

'Everyone was solid in the race today. Abby Peters came through and was 100 percent better than two weeks ago. Beth Hoge fell out of the race at the 2,000-meter mark with a side-ache. We could have been close to Stanford with her. Tara will hammer and be top five at the championships if she runs like today. We'll have a good possibility for a nice finish next week,' said Coach Dave Murray on the women's performance.

The women stepped up to the challenge after losing number-two runner, Beth Hoge. Erin Doherty finished 14th in 21:52.3. Jennifer Burris wasn't far behind in 16th place at 21:57.3. Abby Peters strong performance took her to a 21st place finish with a time of 22:05.6. The fifth runner for the Wildcats was Kim Bates in 33rd with a time of 22:33.9. Also competing for Arizona was 43rd place Nicole Gurnicz who finished in 23:03.8.

On the men's side, Mike Cramer led the way for the Wildcats. He finished 12th in 31:32.9. Arizona finished sixth with 135 points. Stanford took the team title with 37 points. The University of Portland was second with 91 points. Oregon placed third with 112 points. Donald Sage of Stanford won the individual title with a time of 30:43.4. He was followed by teammate Grant Robison. Jason Hartmann of Oregon finished third.

'We would have rather been third than sixth, but that's how things go. I feel that we have a strong region, and that should get us in to the championship meet. Mike Cramer and Kyle Goklish were great. Tom Prindiville came through as a strong number-three runner. Mark Anderson didn't have it today in his race. Steve Smith hurt us in the second half of the race as he faded,' Coach Murray said responding to the men's performance.

Following Cramer's performance, Kyle Goklish finished 18th in 31:42.9. Next across the finish line for the Cats was Tom Prindiville in 24th place with a time of 31:57.7. Steve Smith finished 38th in a time of 32:32.7. Mark Anderson was fifth for Arizona finishing 46th in 32:46.2. Matt McInvale and Thomas Opio rounded out the top five in 59th and 60th, respectively. McInvale finisehd in 33:24.6 followed by Opio's 33:27.8.

The women's team will travel to Greenville, S.C. next week where Furman University will host the national championships. The men will find out on Monday whether they earned one of thirteen at-large bids to the meet.

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