Banner day for UA cross country

Posted by Dave Cooney: email

TUCSON, Ariz. – The University of Arizona Wildcat No. 4 women's and men's cross country teams had a strong day on Friday at the NCAA West Regionals in Seattle. The race, hosted by the University of Washington, took place at Jefferson Park Golf Course. The women's team tied for second place overall in the 6,000-meter race while sophomore Lawi Lalang won the men's 10K.

Senior Jen Bergman led the way for the women, clocking a time of 19:52 and finishing in sixth place. Junior Elvin Kibet finished in 12th place, posting a time of 19:57. This marks the first time all season that Kibet has not been the top finisher for the UA women. Sophomore Nicci Corbin posted a time of 20:04, good for 14th place. Senior Elizabeth Apgar's time of 20:15 was good for a 23rd-place finish. Junior Amanda Russell took 30th place with a time of 20:26 and rounded out the scoring for the UA women, who finished with 85 points.

Sophomore Clea Formaz (79th; 21:20) and junior Erin Menefee (91st; 21:30) also competed for the Wildcats.

Oregon took first place in the women's team race, totaling 64 points. Stanford and Arizona tied for second place with 85 points but Stanford won the tiebreaker and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Washington finished in fourth place with 96 points. San Francisco tallied 151 points, good for fifth place.

"We ran great," head coach James Li said. "We had a wonderful meet. We wanted to go there and run a solid race but not have run like it was the NCAA Championships, we wanted to conserve some of our energy and we did that. A tie for second and ending up in third was great. The ladies ran really well and it's another trip to the NCAA Championships for the women. I believe we're in great shape and I believe we will continue this and have a great performance in 8 days. Everyone is fired up and confident and that is exactly what we need."

Lalang won the 10,000-meter race with a time of 29:02, continuing his undefeated streak in cross country races. Yet again, senior Stephen Sambu finished right behind Lalang, clocking a time of 29:38 for the runner-up finish. Due to their finish in the top-4, Lalang and Sambu automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships as individuals. Sophomore Kenji Bierig's time of 30:55 was good for 69th place. Sophomore Sam Macaluso finished in 83rd place and posted a time of 31:14. Freshman Nathan Kandie clocked a time of 31:52, taking 115th place.

Additionally, sophomore Jonas Legernes (141st; 32:30) and sophomore Thomas Valente (150th; 32:46) represented the UA men.

"Lawi and Stephen ran well, they were both in a conservative mode. After about 4K, Lawi took off and nobody really went with him, he ran most of the race by himself. Stephen opened a gap later in the race and ran by himself towards the end as well. The pair of them will be contenders for the NCAA Championships and both of them will be in great shape to win that race. The rest of the men ran well but we just weren't quite good enough this year, with our team not fully coming together until the end, it was tough for us."

The Stanford men took first place with 45 points. Portland earned a second-place finish with 107 points. UCLA's tally of 128 points was good for third place. Oregon finished in fourth with 135 points. Washington came in fifth place, totaling 165 points. Arizona took 10th place overall with 270 points (1-2-69-83-115).

The No. 4 women's squad will find out if they qualify for one of the NCAA At-Large Bids for the NCAA Championships. They will be announced on Saturday at 10 a.m. MST. The NCAA Championships will take place on November 17th in Louisville, Ky.