UA women’s cross country moves up to No. 5 nationally

The University of Arizona women’s cross county team appears to have peaked at just the right time.  They just moved up to No. 5 in the national polls as they prepare for the Pac-12 Championships in a week.

A third-place finish at last week’s Wisconsin Adidas Invitational helped propel the Cats from their previous standing at No. 14, as they now join with three other Pac-12 schools ranked in the national top-10.  Washington is sitting at No. 2, Stanford is ranked No. 8, and California comes in at No. 10.

The Cats’ littlest runner led the way for the women in Wisconsin, as 5’1″ sophomore, Elvin Kibet, clocked a 20:21.1 in the 6,000-meter race for a 12th-place finish.  Teammate Jen Bergman, a junior from California, wasn’t far behind, finishing in 15th with a time of 20:25.1.

Arizona’s women’s team, which finished 11th at the 2010 NCAA Championships, was a pre-season No. 8 pick in the national polls.

They have also moved up to second place in the NCAA West Regional standings, as they continue a steady rise in regional competition.  Last year they finished fourth at the NCAA West Regional Championships and 15th the year before that.

The women’s team is still young, which bodes well for the future of the program.  Its top five scorers included a freshman, two sophomores, and pair of juniors.

And, while the Arizona men’s team is not nationally-ranked, it boasts one of the top cross-country runners in the country.

Lawi Lalang won the men’s 8K at the Wisconsin Adidas, making it three wins in a row.  His time of 23:10.8 eclipsed the previous course record of 23:29.0 – making it his third course record this season.

To make it all the more impressive, the 5’9″ runner from Kenya is just a freshman.  When he arrived in Tucson, Lalang had no competitive running experience, but established himself immediately by posting one of the top times in the country as runner-up in his first college event.

Arizona State will host the Pac-12 Championships this year on Oct. 29, running over a course at Litchfield Park.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)