Women Dominate, Men Take Second at Home
Sept. 18, 2009
If Friday was any indication, the UA men's and women's cross country teams have a lot to be excited about as many of the questions answering the season were answered as the team hosted their lone home meet of the season at the annual Dave Murray Invitational at Dell Urich Golf Course.
The two squads entered the day with very separate story lines. The unranked women came into the season with 11 unproven freshmen athletes and a junior as their most senior athlete and the question was whether or not the youngsters could compete on the big stage. The men returned nearly everyone from a squad that finished seventh in the conference last season wondering who else could step up to push the squad forward this season.
Both squads answered the call on a cool, semi-cloudy Friday afternoon and both story lines became a little bit less foggy.
The UA women were led - not surprisingly - by junior Maggie Callahan, who crossed the line second overall in the 5000-meter race. Callahan is the only junior on the team, and the squads eldest athlete. Callahan led down the home stretch but fell just short to ASU's Anna Sperry's late push to edge the junior. Callahan finished in 17 minutes and 5 seconds, just two second behind Sperry.
The telling story of the women's race, however, was the performance of the Arizona freshmen. Jennifer Bergman and Lauren Smith were the next UA athletes across the line, finishing fourth and fifth in 17:11 and 17:16, respectively.
TUCSON - Sophomore Hanna Henson cross the line next for the 'Cats, finishing eighth in 17:21 while another freshmen, Cami Jackson, was hot on her heels in ninth in 17:22. In total, three freshmen scored points for the Wildcats and five women finished in the top-10 overall - way more their Pac-10 rivals as Arizona State and UCLA only had two athlete a piece in the top-10.
The UA also easily handled their competitors as far as scoring was concerned as their 28 points gave them a pretty healthy victory over second-place ASU (41) and third-place UCLA (61).
The men's side may have had the most important individuals performance of the day as junior Mohamud Ige put on the burners down the stretch to hold off UCLA's Craig Curley on his way to the best finish of his Wildcat career.
Ige, who battled through a rough first-year after transferring from Central Arizona last season, showed that any lasting ill-effects are all but gone as he was not only strong across the finish line but pulling away as well. He finished the 7000-meter race in 20:59, the only athlete under the 21-minute barrier.
Junior Victor Zazueta, the UA's top runner through his first two seasons, was the next UA athlete across the line as he finished eighth in 21:36. Abdi Hassan, Arizona's freshman record holder in the 1600-meters in track and field, came next in 14th (21:57). Junior Jordan Mara (22nd, 22:17) and senior Brian MacArthur (25th, 22:21) rounded out the point-scoring individuals for Arizona.
The UA squads will look to keep the momentum going two weeks from now on October 2 at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend.