Cross Country Ready for Regionals

Nov. 7, 2007

Up Next: The University of Arizona men's and women's cross country teams will compete at the West Regional Championships this weekend. The meet is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Springfield Country Club outside of Springfield, Ore.

The Competition: The Wildcats will be facing several of the top teams from around the country when they compete on Saturday. On the women's side, Arizona will go up against ranked teams from Stanford (1), Oregon (2), Arizona State (5) and Washington (7), Northern Arizona (22) and UC Santa Barbara (27). The Wildcat men will also compete against ranked opponents, going up against Oregon (1), Northern Arizona (2), Stanford (8, California (10), Portland (20), UCLA (21) and Arizona State (27) and Cal Poly (28).

Last Time Out: The University of Arizona competed at the Pac-10 Championships on Oct. 27, with the women's team placing 6th and the men's team placing 8th.

The women's team was paced by Irine Lagat's 19th place finish (20:44.3). Also scoring points for the Wildcats were Marissa Urban (29th, 21:03.6), Maggie Callahan (38th, 21:22.0), Shelly Splittberger (44th, 21:32.0) and Angelina Cabrera (58th, 22:05.8).

The men finished in a pack and were led by Dylan Fitzpatrick's 50th place finish (24:41.2). Also scoring points for the wildcats were Carlos Rybeck (51st, 24:45.0), Lou Maturo (52nd, 24:45.8), Reed Blochberger (53rd, 24:56.7) and Victor Zazueta (54th, 25:09.7).

Dave Murray Invitational: The team hosted its one and only meet of the year, the Dave Murray Invitational, on Sept. 14. The women's team placed second and the men's team finished in fifth. Irine Lagat led the way for the women's team, finishing the 4,000-meter race in a time of 13:47.62 to place fourth overall. This was the top individual finish of the junior's career. The men's team was paced by freshman Victor Zazueta's 27th place finish (19:19.08, 6,000 meters).

For the Wildcat Men: The University of Arizona men's cross country team will send two athletes to compete at the NCAA West Regional Championships, as freshman Victor Zazueta and sophomore Dylan Fitzpatrick will make the trip to Oregon.

Fitzpatrick was the Wildcats top finisher at the conference meet, placing 50th. Zazueta was the team's top finisher in the prior four races, with his top finish coming at the ASU Invitational (fifth).

For the Wildcat Women: The women's team will send seven athletes to compete at the West Region Championships, with freshmen Maggie Callahan, Kassidy Rede and Christina Rodgers, sophomore Shelly Splittberger, juniors Irine Lagat and Marissa Urban and senior Angelina Cabrera.

The women are led by a pair of juniors, as either Marissa Urban or Irine Lagat have paced the team in each race this year. Each athlete's top finish came at the ASU Invitational, where Urban placed second and Lagat finished in third.

Callahan has consistently been the team's third finisher, and has scored in each of the team's six races this year. Splittberger has also scored in each of the team's races this year. Cabrera and Rede have also scored points for the team on multiple occasions, placing among the team's top five in four and two races respectively.

Coach Li: James Li is in his sixth season with the Wildcat coaching staff, where he serves as the head cross country coach and associate track and field coach. Li came to Arizona in 2002 from Washington State, where he worked with the Cougar track and field and cross country programs for a combined total of 13 years. Li also previously coached at the Sichuan Sports Technique Institute in Sichuan, China (1983-1985) and at Minnesota State at Mankato (1990-1994). Li has coached numerous individual athletes and relay teams to more than 30 conference championships, 50 All-American honors and nine national championships. Among these athletes are Bernard Lagat and Robert Cheseret, two of the most decorated distance runners in Pac-10 history. Lagat, who continues to train with Li, won gold medals at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, making him the first American to ever complete that double

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