Wildcat Cross Country Opens Season at UC Irvine Invitational

Sept. 4, 2003

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Up Next: The University of Arizona's men's and women's cross country teams are slated to open the 2003 season at the UCI/J.L. Design Enterprises Invitational in Huntington Beach, Calif. The competition is set to take place at Central Park, with the women's 5k starting at 9:00 a.m. PT, followed by the men's 8k at 9:45 a.m. PT.

The Competition: Arizona will get a good look at some quality teams at the Irvine Invitational. Along with the Wildcats other past team champions include UC Irvine and Southern Utah. Schools sending both a men's and women's squad include: Cal Poly Pomona, Central Arizona, Cal State Northridge, Loyola Marymount, New Mexico State, Occidental, Southern Utah and UC San Diego. The women's field will also be filled out by Sonoma State, UNLV and USC. In the preseason cross country polls released prior to April 22, the Southern Utah men are the only ranked squad, coming in at No. 11 in the Mountain Region.

Who's Going?: The Wildcats will field a ten-member squad for both the men and women in their first action of the 2003 season. On the men's side, Arizona will be represented by Mark Anderson (Sr.), Eric Bohn (Sr.), Eric Chavez (Fr.), Jin Daikoku (So.), Kenny Frank (Fr.), Kyle Goklish (Sr.), Mike Howard (Jr.), Ryan Ludwig (Fr.), Matt McInvale (Sr.) and Craig Pansing (Sr.). The youthful Arizona women's squad will include: Jenn Ford (So.), Adrienne Goeller (So.), Nicole Gurnicz (Sr.), Michi Hirakawa-Wong (So.), Beth Hoge (Jr.), Ashley Ippolito (Fr.), Karen Langdorf (Fr.), Jenny Sears (So.), Amber Steen (So.) and Robin Tierney (So.).

Fast Forward: The UA cross country program will play to host to its first home meet in two seasons on Friday, September 19. The Dave Murray Invitational will take place at the Randolph Golf Course in Tucson. Racing is scheduled to get underway at 4:45 p.m. The last time the Wildcats held a home meet was the 2001 NCAA West Regional.

Scouting the Wildcats:
Season Preview:
The 2003 men's and women's cross country teams are ready to show the competition what they've got. The UA men will be dominated by experience, whils the women's squad will be another young group. After ending the 2002 season prematurely at the NCAA West Regional, both the men and women have set their sights on returning to the NCAA Championships in November.

The UA men will be led by seniors Mark Anderson and Kyle Goklish. Both are coming off of stellar track seasons. Anderson was a qualifier in the 3,000m steeplechase at the NCAA West Regional, where he won his heat. Goklish also enjoyed a lot of success as the track team's sole 10k runner. He narrowly missed a trip to the NCAA Championships by a few seconds on the provisional qualifiers list. The Wildcats expect both Anderson and Goklish to lead this team to new heights in 2003.

The men's squad will also be joined by fellow seniors Eric Bohn, Kevin Engelhardt and Matt McInvale. Bohn looks to leave his mark at Arizona as he enters his final season. He has been a great addition to the team since he transfered from Michigan. Engelhardt and McInvale have been with the program throughout their collegiate careers. Both have been important members of the team and will be looked at to provide leadership throughout the 2003 season.

The Wildcats can also look towards some of the younger returnees for a lot of leadership this year. Jin Daikoku, Mike Howard, Josh Ludwig and Aaron Powell have all provided some great performances in recent years. Expect them to be strong contributors to the squad as the season rolls on.

Head coach James Li was able to bring a strong group of newcomers for the 2003 season. Heading up the group will be two natives of Kenya in Robert Cheseret and Jonah Maiyo. Cheseret enrolled at UA in January of 2003 and had a huge season on the Arizona track team. Cheseret capped off his sensational freshman season with a third-place finish in the 5,000m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Maiyo joins the Wildcats as a junior college transfer from Central Arizona. He brings a lot of talent to the squad, proven by his three junior college national titles in track and a third-place finish at the National Junior College Cross Country Championships.

Also joining the Wildcat men will be local high school standouts Eric Chavez of Rio Rico, Arizona and Chris Ogle of Tucson. Both bring a strong work ethic and great talent to the team. Kenny Frank, Ryan Ludwig and Jeremy Johnson will also be strong contributors to the Arizona cross country program.

On the women's side, the Wildcats are looking forward to having an exciting season. The thirteen-member squad is filled with freshmen and sophomores, except for three athletes. The talent of the team is tremendous and the Wildcats expect big things for the coming season.

The squad will be led by junior Beth Hoge. Hoge sat out during the 2002 season to save a redshirt year. She is coming off of an outstanding track season, where she reached the finals of the women's 5,000m at the NCAA Championships. Hoge was the second Wildcat finisher in 2001 at the NCAA Cross Country championships, in which Arizona finished fourth as a team.

Along with Hoge, the Wildcats will enjoy the leadership of Nicole Gurnicz. Gurnicz has been a strong member of the Wildcat squad in recent years. Like Hoge, she sat out the 2002 season in order to save an extra year of eligibility. Gurnicz expects to be back in top form to help lead the Wildcats in 2004.

Arizona returns the talent of seven sophomores this season. Last year's top runners Adrienne Goeller and Jenny Sears look forward to building upon their freshman seasons. Sears' season ended prematurely after an injury forced her to sit out. Both should be greatly improved and ready for action.

The Wildcats will also be helped out by the likes of freshmen Ashley Ippolito and Karen Langdorf. Both will develop their talents under the tutelage of Coach Li throughout the 2004 season.

Arizona looks to be very much improved in its men's and women's squads this season. They are expecting to compete with the best and vie for a return to the NCAA Championships.


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