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Arizona Wildcats claim first Pac-12 title in women’s cross country

No. 1 Arizona moves on to the West regional championships on Nov. 15. Photo via @ArizonaTrack on Twitter

No. 1 Arizona moves on to the West regional championships on Nov. 15. Photo via @ArizonaTrack on Twitter

The top-ranked Arizona Wildcats women’s cross country team won the first Pac-12 title in school history Saturday.

Senior Elvin Kibet led the way for the Cats, finishing second in a time of 21 minutes, 15 seconds over 6,000 meters at the Coal Creek Golf Course in Louisville, Colo., a suburb of Boulder.

Sophomore Kayla Beattie was fifth in 21:20, followed by junior Nicci Corbin in sixth at 21:23.

Arizona had 69 points, edging Colorado, which took second with 75 points.

“We are so proud of the ladies,” head coach James Li said in a release from the university.

“This whole year they have been doing such a great job in everything they do. They are so focused and to come here in a difficult situation at altitude and against a really good Colorado team on their home course … it was a hard-fought victory and it was a great job by all the girls today.”

Freshman Maria Larsson was fourth among the Cats, taking 24th place overall in 22:30. Junior Hanna Peterson was 32nd with a time of 22:43.

Before the meet, the Pac-12 announced Kibet as the 2013 Scholar Athlete of the Year for women’s cross country.

“I’m really happy,” Kibet said in a release.

“I wanted to win the whole thing but it was hard in the end with the altitude and everything. Being the scholar athlete of the year is so special and I am really honored.

“For the team winning the Pac-12 Championship for the first time ever, that’s just amazing. We went into this race and coach Li told us, ‘Run with spirit. It’s one thing to run but it is another to run with spirit.’ I kept thinking about that the whole race and I kept telling myself, ‘You can do this, you can do this for the team and for yourself.’”

The West regional championships will be held Nov. 15 in Sacramento, Calif. The NCAA championships will be held in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23.

The men’s team finished eighth. ASU was fourth.

Arizona and Arizona State each earned a point in the Territorial Cup Series, as the Pac-12 meet determines the winner of a point for the cross country teams.

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