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Oct. 27, 1997 Monday, October 27, 1997

Stanford to Host 1997 Pac-10 Cross Country Championships

Top-ranked Cardinals set to defend men's & women's titles

Conference Chatter
1997 Pacific-10 Men's & Women's Cross Country Championships
Saturday, November 1, 1997
Second tee, Stanford Golf Course
Women's race (5,000 meters) - 3:30 p.m.
Men's race (8,000 meters) - 4:00 p.m.

Conference Chatter The Pacific-10 men's and women's race will be contested on the Stanford University Golf Course. Eight conference schools will compete for the men's title, while nine conference schools will compete for the women's crown. Oregon has captured 13 of 28 (and five of the last nine) men's titles, while Arizona has won six crowns (all in the past 14 seasons). Stanford, the Pac-10 champion and NCAA champion in 1996, has won five league titles. Washington State has won four titles. Oregon has won seven of the eleven's women's titles (and four of the last seven years). However, Stanford, the 1996 Pacific-10 and NCAA champion, has won the confrence title three of the last four seasons.

Ratings Review Six Pacific-10 schools are ranked in the Martin Surfacing NCAA Division One Men's Cross Country Poll. Stanford is ranked first, Oregon is fifth, Washington is ranked tenth, Arizona is rated 14th, Washington is ranked 18th, and UCLA is rated 22nd. The FinishLynx NCAA Division I Women's Poll finds Stanford ranked first, Oregon fourth, UCLA 13th, and Washington 14th.

Men's Theme (30th annual) The tradition of Pac-10 cross country is a rich one and the names read like who's who in world-class distance running. Steve Prefontaine, Henry Rono, and the 1994 NCA champion Martin Keino. Yet, while the names might change, the theme remains fairly consistent. Individually, UCLA's Mebrahtom Kelflezighi, WSU's Bernard Lagat, Stanford's Brad Hauser and Brent Hauser, Nathan Nutter of Stanford, and Arizona's Abdi Abdirahman could all place in the top ten at the NCAA's and will contribute to one of the best wire-to-wire championships in the country. And once again, Stanford, ranked #1 in the nation and the defending Pac-10 and NCAA champion, will rely on strength and depth to possibly win a second straight conference title. Jason Lunn and Jason Balkman help give Stanford another strong squad in 1997. Look for the University of Oregon, which is ranked fourth in the nation, to make a serious push at the team title. Senior Daniel das Neves and junior Micah Davis will lead a talented and deep Oregon squad in its quest for its 14th Pac-10 title. Last year the Ducks finished third at the NCAA's. Washington State looks to be peaking at the right time and should challenge for the top spot in the team competition. Sophomore Bernard Lagat leads a talented Cougar squad. Also look for strong performances from Rasto Kiplangat and Eric Kamau. Abdi Abdirahman of Arizona, and Washington's Christian Belz and Dave Bazzi should keep their respective schools in contention. UCLA, ranked 13th in the nation, California and Arizona State will also field competitive teams. The Bruins feature Mebrahtom Keflezighi, who will challenge his course record (23:45) in defending his individual Pac-10 title. Keflezighi's last three races on the Stanford course have resulted in first place finishes for the senior. Cal's Peter Gilmore has enjoyed an excellent season, and has the talent to finish among the individual leaders.

Women's Theme (13th annual) The women boast four teams ranked in the FinishLynx Top 25 led by top-ranked Stanford, followed by #4 Oregon, #13 UCLA and #14 Washington. Like the men's race, Stanford will look to repeat as the Pac-10 champion. Stanford has its sights on capturing a fourth title in five years and will be led by senior Sarna Renfro, junior Mary Cobb and freshman phenom Julia Stamps. Stanford is deep in talent and experience. Junior Marie Davis and senior teammate Milena Glusac will lead Oregon in its attempt to dethrone the Cardinal. UCLA faces a challenge in its quest for the title but a stress fracture will keep Bruin sophomore Kim Mortensen, the second place finisher at last year's championship, on the sideline. Katherina Kechris of UCLA is a strong runner and has the potential for a high individual finish. Washington sophomore Margaret Butler should keep the Washington Huskies in the hunt for a high team finish. Arizona, Arizona State, Californa (led by the Riedy sisters, Alicia and Lerissa) and Washington State will play the role of spoilers. The strong favorite to repeat as top individual finisher is Arizona's Amy Skieresz. Her resume is impressive. Skieresz is the two-time Pac-10 champion. Last year as a sophomore, she set a course record with a time of 16:36 over 5,000 meters. Skieresz has won her last seven years, dating back to the 1995 NCAA championships, when she placed second. In 18 career races, she has won 16. She won the 1996 NCAA cross country championships, the 1997 NCAA indoor 5,000 meter title, the 1997 NCAA outdoor 5,000 meter title, and the 1997 NCAA outdoor 10,000 meter championship. Pacific-10 Potpourri Stanford University has served as host to the men's Pacific-10 Cross Country Championships since 1973 and the women's cross country championships since 1986. However, the 1997 championships will be the last on the Stanford campus until the year 2006. Starting next season, the championships will rotate among the nine participating schools with the first stop coming at the University of Oregon.

Footnote Facts Arizona's Amy Skieresz will try to accomplish something that has only happened once in conference history. Skieresz will try to win the Pac-10 title for a third time. She has won the league title the past two years. Regina Jacobs of Stanford captured the league crown three tmes, from 1983 to 1985, when cross country crown was run under the banner of the WCAA (1983 and 1984) and the Pac-West (1985). UCLA's Mebrahtom Kelfezighi has run the Stanford course many times. Keflezighi's last three races on the Stanford course have resulted in first place finishes including the conference title last year.

The Martin Surfacing NCAA Division I        FinishLynx NCAA Division I
Men's Cross Country Poll                    Women's Poll
1. Stanford             394                 1. Stanford             225
2. Arkansas             389                 2. Brigham Young        215
3. Michigan             367                 3. Wisconsin            208
4. Colorado             349                 4. Oregon               195
5. Oregon               327                 5. Colorado             188
6. Wisconsin            320                 6. Providence           184
7. Michigan State       296                 7. Villanova            171
8. North Carolina State 294                 8. Arkansas             155
9. Notre Dame           243                 9. North Carolina State 151
10. Washington State    240                 10. Georgetown          145
14. Arizona             168                 13. UCLA                106
18. Washington          120                 14. Washington          101
22. UCLA                 54