Women Shine In National Spotlight
Oct. 17, 2009
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - If there was any doubt that The University of Arizona's women's cross country team couldn't compete with the big time teams on the national level, the Wildcats put a stop to that Saturday afternoon. The team finished sixth in their respective race at the 2009 NCAA Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, Ind. at which 18 of the USTFCCCA's top 30 teams in last weeks ranking were in action – the Wildcats not one of them.
Led for the third time in as many races by junior Maggie Callahan, every point scoring member of the squad finished the race in under 22 minutes and that consistency pushed the team to the top on cool day at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course at Indiana State University, home of this year's NCAA National Championships.
Callahan finished the race in 18th place overall in the women's “Blue” section in a time of 21:06.2 over the 6000-meter course, a 13-second improvement over her previous personal best at the distance. Callahan, the most senior member of the Wildcats despite being a junior, has finished in the top-20 at all three races she has competed in this season.
Lauren Smith continued her impressive freshman campaign for the Wildcats as she came across the line 39th overall in 21:29.4 in her first collegiate 6000-meter race. Fellow freshman Cami Jackson also impressed in 21:36.2 to finish 50th overall.
One of the few returning members from last season squad, sophomore Hanna Henson, was next across the line for the UA in 55th in 21:41.9.
A new face found it's way into the point-scoring individuals for Arizona in freshman Elizabeth Apgar who finished 63rd overall in 21:46.90. It was the first race this season that the top-5 Arizona athletes changed and continued to show the depth of the UA's impressive freshman class.
There were 74 total teams competing on the women's side Saturday, hence the reason for the event being split into two separate races. If the results were combined, Arizona still would have had the 13th best total and individual average time among all teams. Put into perspective that many of the teams Arizona finished ahead of were either ranked or had more votes than the 'Cats in the most recent poll, the Wildcats hope to have padded their NCAA National Championship resume with the finish.
On the men's side of things, the UA squad was forced to compete without junior Mohamud Ige who looked like he would be the team's premier runner after the first race of the season at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson Arizona. With fellow junior Victor Zazueta still recovering from a minor injury, the UA men were led by a different athlete for the third straight week as senior Dylan Fitzpatrick was the first Wildcat across the line.
Fitzpatrick finished in 25:13.7 in 104th place. Sophomore Abdi Hassan (25:31.6), junior Jordan Mara (25:55.3), freshman Noe Ramirez (25:57) and Zazueta (25:58.1) rounded out the scorers for the men who are just looking to put together something consistent heading into the Pac-10 Conference Championships in two weekends.
A big finish at that meet on Oct. 30 Los Angeles for the women at that meet could give them the momentum and the big finish they need to begin to solidify their bid for an at-large bid at the NCAA Championships a little over a month from now on Nov. 23 right back in Terre Haute.