Cross Country to Kick Off Season at NAU
Sept. 4, 2009
The 2009 Arizona men’s and women’s cross country squads will kick off the new season Saturday as they head north to do battle in the 29th Annual George Kyte Classic, hosted by Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. at Buffalo Park.
The 2009 women’s squad will feature a host of new faces as only four members return from last season’s Pac-10 conference’s seventh place team. The team features an impressive 11 athletes that will see their first action as a collegiate student-athlete this weekend. This list includes Lauren Smith out of Texas, a two-time Footlocker Cross Country finalist; Cami Jackson, who helped guide her Mesa Mountain View squad to its first ever Arizona State Championship last year; Megan Meyer, a top-25 finisher at the 2007 USATF Junior Cross Country Championship, and a host of other promising athletes.
This list also includes local stars Melanie McGrath and Magda Mankel who join sophomores James Eichberger and Amanda Beckham as the third and fourth athletes on the Arizona squad coming out of Catalina Magnet High School in Tucson.
The returning athletes are nothing to scoff at either, led by junior Maggie Callahan – the senior member of the team. Callahan was consistently a top-5 finisher among the Wildcats last season along with sophomore Hannah Moen. Both athletes also led the charge in the track and field season in the 3000-meter steeplechase as both were NCAA Regional Qualifiers in the event. Hanna Henson and Sara Sanchez represent the teams two other returning members, both sophomores.
On the men’s side, it is the complete opposite situation from the women as only three freshmen join the ten returning athletes from last year’s squad. The team will look to be led by junior Victor Zazueta – another Tucson high school product – but will likely see impressive contributions from the likes of red-shirt senior Dylan Fitzpatrick, juniors Brian MacArthur, Mohamud Ige and Jordan Mara and red-shirt sophomore Abdi Hassan who was, perhaps, the team’s most impressive freshman last season.
The first race of the afternoon at the George Kyte Classic begins with the women taking to the course at 1:30 p.m. followed by the men at 2:15 p.m.