UA wraps up Pre-National Meet
Oct. 18, 2008
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The UA men's and women's cross country teams took the course against some of the top competition in the country Saturday as they competed at the NCAA Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, Ind., hosted by Indiana State University at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course. The women really stood out with their performance today, finishing a very respectable 15th place out of 41 teams in the 6,000-meter 'blue' race.
Senior Irine Lagat, like she has the past two seasons, paced the women's team and finished 38th overall in a time of 21:12.40 across the rolling and challenging Gibson course. Freshman Hannah Moen continued her impressive first year as she finished behind Lagat in 68th clocking a 21:28.30.
'The women did really well today,' said cross country head coach James Li. 'If you look at the competition coming into the race there were 14 or 15 teams in the top 40 (in the country) and we performed really well in that situation.'
The top six women all finished within a minute of each other, a sign of consistency that the team will have to keep up if they are to have a shot of qualifying for the National Championships next month.
Sophomore Maggie Callahan finished third on the Wildcat squad and 87th overall in a time of 21:71.70. She was followed by senior Shelly Splittberger (121st, 22:06.40), who had what Coach Li called one of the best performances of the day.
'I'm really happy with how it went (today), especially competed to the last meet,' Splittberger said. 'The team did really well and we were close together and pretty happy with the results.'
Junior Chistina Rodgers rounded out the scoring five for the Wildcats just edging out freshman Hanna Henson in a time of 22:16.30 (132nd) compared to Henson's 22:16.60 (133rd).
'The Pac-10 (Championships) and the NCAA West Regional are going to be crucial,' Li said of the upcoming races. 'But we have put ourselves in a position to compete against 6 or 7 teams and make it to the NCAA Championships.'
While the women were all smiles after the race, the men were left scratching their head after a less than desirable 36th place finish out of 41 teams in the Men's 8,000-meter 'blue' race.
Senior Dylan Fitzpatrick paced the team with a 96th place 24:54.20 performance, giving the Wildcats their third different top finisher in as many races - but a young UA team seemed to struggle with the pressure, according to Li.
'We had a terrible race today and now we just have to regroup and put this behind us,' Li said. 'In two weeks at the Pac-10 Championships hopefully we will be more competitive.'
The No. 1 ranked Washington Huskies left no doubt about their ranking this week as they dominated the women's blue race, placing four runners in the top 10. No. 6 Alabama placed three runners in the top 10 in the men's blue race on their way to the top spot.
Both the men and women will have the next two weeks off before they head to Eugene, Ore. for the Pac-10 Championships on Nov. 1.