Arizona cross country coach expects Wildcats to improve
Head cross country coach and associate head track and field coach James Li has worked for the UA since 2002 and sees improvement every season.
Li has been in Arizona for 11 years, but had plenty of coaching experience before he came to the UA. Li has coached at Washington State, Minnesota State University at Mankato and has been a part of the U.S. National and Olympic coaching staffs.
After this last weekend’s first and only home meet of the season, the Dave Murray Invitational, Li gave his status reports on the teams:
Daily Wildcat: What do you think of this year’s team after the first two meets of the season? How are the new runners fitting in and adjusting to collegiate cross country?
Li: “Well, I think we’re getting better, both men’s and women’s team. You know, of course, [the] women’s team was really good last year and we are indeed getting better. I think it really means a lot. A few of the guys are doing really well … The new people really contribute significantly, to probably take the team somewhere where we haven’t been before.”
How do you feel about the times from this meet and this course in particular?
“The time varies quite significantly from year to year, because of the course and how thick the grass is, how hot it is, all those things. And also, the competition, who’s running and all that stuff. I mean, [Friday]’s time is not particularly fast, but I’m very satisfied with all of our athletes and what they have done here. [This is] our traditional course, it’s always been here and the course is somewhat of a slow course. Especially with the heat, it’s not really a place to run fast. NAU and ASU, I don’t think they ran their strongest team today … we didn’t either.”
How do you feel about next weekend’s meet in Minneapolis?
“It’s going to be a considerably bigger meet. There is going to be a lot of teams, so we’ll be looking forward to that. It’s going to be a real competition for sure.”
We understand that Nationals is the main goal for this season, but what other goals do you have for the team?
“Finish high in the Pac-12 Championships. That’s always [a goal]. You want to finish high in the Conference Championships, and then you want to go to Nationals and then finish high at Nationals.”
The Wildcats’ next meet is Saturday, in Minneapolis for the Griak Invitational.
— Follow Makenzie Thiel @makenziethiel