Men's Cross Country Continues to Climb National Poll

Oct. 21, 2003

The University of Arizona's men's cross country team has garnered its highest ranking of the 2003 season. In the Oct. 21 version of the Men's MONDO National Rankings, the Wildcats moved up to the No. 14 spot. Arizona debuted in the Sept. 30 national rankings at No. 18 after the Roy Griak Invitational, where the squad placed sixth in the overall team standings.

The Wildcats have competed in two big national meets during the 2003 season and have performed exceptionally well en route to the squad's current No. 14 ranking. The Wildcats' sixth-place showing at the Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., caught the eyes of the coaches voting each week in the MONDO poll. Freshman Robert Cheseret has been one of the main reasons for the Wildcats' climb up the polls. The freshman from Kapsabet, Kenya hasn't placed lower than second in a meet all year. Cheseret has claimed individual titles at the Dave Murray Invitational and Arizona State University Invitational. He posted runner-up performances at the Griak Invitational and NCAA Pre-Nationals.

The Wildcat men have greatly improved on their ability to work together with a strong mental strategy to go along with their proven ability as distance runners. 'We are really strong up front with our top three runners. Everyone else is competing really well. We had six runners in the top 100 at the Griak Invitational, and that is why we have moved up in the rankings,' commented head coach James Li. 'We've been able to beat teams that were previously ranked ahead of us, and as a result, the coaches association has realized that.'

The squad continues to move in a positive direction as the team enters the championship phase of the season. There are three meets left on the Wildcats' schedule. The Pac-10 Championships is up next for the team. They will travel to Pullman, Wash., where they will take on a very strong field, including the No. 1 team in the nation from Stanford. The NCAA West Regional on Saturday, Nov. 15 will decide the fate of the team in their quest to return to the NCAA Championships. In the latest West Region poll conducted by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association, the Wildcats moved into the No. 2 spot behind Stanford. Arizona State, Cal Poly and Oregon will be right on their heels.

From an individual perspective, each runner looks to be improving at each meet. 'Robert (Cheseret) is one of four or five runners who will be in the hunt for the individual national title. As a true freshman, that is quite remarkable,' Li said. 'Jonah Maiyo is a middle distance runner, and I have been very impressed with his performances. He continues to get better as the season goes on. Kyle Goklish is finally running where he is supposed to be and will do better yet.

'The rest of the squad is doing a great job. Eric Bohn and Matt McInvale play a significant role as our No. 4 and No. 5 runners. They have stepped in and significantly improved from last year to help this team to where we are now,' Li continued.

The men's cross country team is set for the championship season. 'This is definitely a big change from last year. I am happy with where we are,' Li said.


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