PULLMAN, Wash. - The Washington State University cross country teams closed the 2013 season with top finishes at their final two meets. The Cougar men’s team took sixth and the women’s team took 10th at the Pac-12 Championships. At the NCAA West Regional Championships, the men finished eighth and the women finished 14th.
For the second-straight year under coach Tim Riley, the Cougar men finished in the top 10 and the women finished in the top 20 at the NCAA West Regional Championships.
"Everybody is on that upward slope and doing everything right. We’re going to carry that into the track season," coach Tim Riley said.
At both final meets in 2013, the Cougars faced tough competition. First, at the Pac-12 Championships, the men squared off against four teams ranked nationally by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The men’s showing at the meet bumped them from 14th to eighth in the West Region rankings. At the same meet, the women’s team faced six USTFCCCA nationally-ranked teams. At the NCAA West Regional Championships, the Cougar men and women both finished behind six USTFCCCA nationally-ranked teams.
"On the men’s side, our goal for the whole year was to make nationals," Riley said. "We fell a little short this year, but I was really happy with how the guys bounced back from midway through the season. They rallied after the Notre Dame Invitational and got more focused."
Senior Andrew Gonzales led the men’s team and was the top Cougar finisher in five of the six races he competed. Gonzales finished eighth at both the Clash of the Inland Northwest and Sundodger Invitational, 39th at the Notre Dame Invitational, fourth at the Inland Empire Classic, 15th at the Pac-12 Championships, and 21st at the NCAA West Regional.
The Cougar men’s cross country team loses Gonzales at the end of this season. However, the rest of WSU’s top men are expected to return including Drew Jordan and Todd Wakefield.
"With the women, I was really happy with how they finished the year," Riley said. "They developed over the year. Every race they were better and I think it has to do with the leadership and that they’re still really young. The sophomore core stepped up and set the standard developmentally."
Ruby Roberts, senior, was the 2013 women’s team captain and also the top Cougar finisher at every meet she competed. Returning from injury mid-season, Roberts notched 17th at NCAA Inter-Regional Jamboree, second at the Inland Empire Classic, and 15th at both the Pac-12 Championships and NCAA West Regional. With her finish at the NCAA West Regional, Roberts was just shy of qualifying individually for an NCAA Championships at-large berth.
The women’s team says farewell to Courtney Zalud this season. The Cougars still anticipate being competitive next year with 13 runners expected to return.
Coach Riley looks to keep the teams healthy during the track season and carry success through the indoor and outdoor seasons.