UA Cross Country Heads North to Roy Griak Invitational

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Sept. 25, 2002

Up Next: The men's and women's Wildcat cross country teams will make the trek up north to Minneapolis, Minn this weekend for the Roy Griak Invitational. The University of Minnesota will play host to some very tough competition in this year's meet. Last year, the UA women finished third overall in the team standings, while the men were 16th.

Who's Going?: Arizona will take eight men and eight women to the meet. On the men's side, the Wildcats will be represented by Mark Anderson, Eric Bohn, Kevin Engelhardt, Kyle Goklish, Wade Juntunen, Josh Ludwig, Craig Pansing and Aaron Powell. The Wildcat women's team will be comprised of Adrienne Goeller, Michi Hirakawa-Wong, Beth Hoge, Susan Mortensen, Jenny Sears, Lilli Shoen, Amber Steen and Robin Tierney.

Fast Forward: With two meets under their belts after this weekend, the Wildcats will have another open weekend before they travel up into rival territory for the ASU Invitational on Oct. 11 in Gilbert, Ariz. It will be the last meet for the Wildcats to prepare for the Pre-NCAA meet and the three postseason meets.

Coach Li's Corner: 'This is a big meet, traditionally. This year, about half of the nation's top teams will be there. It will be a very competitive race on a nice course. This meet will give our athletes some unprecedented experience, especially for our younger athletes.

'I expect our team to get out there and run better. Now that they have had one competition, they have learned from their first race. They should be able to come away with a feeling that we have made improvements, hopefully it will be significant improvement.

'You can't judge the team's improvement based on our finish. This weekend's meet will be one of the most high-powered in the nation, and the competition will be very tough.

'This week, we will be running some athletes that did not compete two weeks ago. Hopefully, they will add strength in our competitiveness at the meet.'

2002 Season OutlookThe 2002 Cross Country season is the dawn of a new era for the University of Arizona Wildcats. The men's and women's teams head into the season with a new and fresh look. The biggest addition to the 2002 version of the Wildcat cross country teams is that of new head coach James Li. Li comes to the Wildcats from Washington State University, where he coached for eight years between cross country and track and field. The new leadership of Coach Li is sure to keep the great running tradition at Arizona alive and well.

This year's women's cross country team will have quite a different look from last year's squad. Nine of the twelve team members are true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. 'We are going through a major transition with a group of very young women. It is going to be a year to gain experience and to start a new training system, while making an effort to carry on with our tradition here at Arizona,' commented Coach Li.

The young team is expected to be led by junior Beth Hoge, who ran as a solid No. 2 runner last year for the Wildcats. Hoge played an important role in helping the team to a fourth-place finish at the 2001 NCAA Championships. Along with Hoge, senior Nicole Gurnicz will be an integral part of the women's squad. Gurnicz helped the Wildcats out a lot last year being one of the top seven runners. Hoge and Gurnicz will be followed by a lot of talented and young freshmen.

On the men's side, the Wildcats return a few more members of last year's squad than the women. The transition is the same for the Arizona men, but some of the team cohesiveness is already there. 'The fundamentals we are facing is with a new coach and a new system. We have a group of athletes who are really talented, but are still very young and somewhat inexperienced,' explained Coach Li.

The team will be led by junior Mark Anderson and senior Kyle Goklish. Both were members of the team that competed in last year's NCAA Championships. The Wildcats also have high hopes in Eric Bohn, Josh Ludwig, Wade Juntunen and Matt McInvale. According to Coach Li, if everyone steps up to meet the challenge, this team could perform quite well this season.

As the 2002 cross country season dawns on the Wildcats, one of the major goals will be to get everyone some valid experience in collegiate cross country and to perform the best of everyone's ability. Although this is considered a transition year for the Wildcats, they will show the perserverance and dedication that is attributed to the UA tradition.

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