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Washington State Cross Country


Cougar Runners Travel To Oregon For Pacific-10 Championships

October 29, 1998

PULLMAN, Wash. - The Washington State men and women distance runners begin the championship portion of their cross country season with the Pacific-10 Conference Championships Saturday, Oct. 31.

The Oregon Ducks serve as host of this year's 31st annual championship for men and 14th annual race for women. The meet, held at Alton Baker Park in Eugene, begins at 11 a.m. PST with the women's 5,000 meters followed by the men's 8,000 meters at 11:30 a.m. PST. The field includes nine women's squads (minus Oregon State) and eight men's teams (Oregon State, USC).

Washington State junior Bernard Lagat will attempt to become the first male runner to repeat as Pac-10 champion since Cougar Josephat Kapkory performed the feat in 1992 and 1993. Lagat held off defending champion Mebrahtom Keflezighi of UCLA to post an eight-second victory with a winning time of 23 minutes, 59 seconds last year at Stanford.

Two weeks ago at the Oregon Invitational, Lagat posted his third victory in four starts this fall. He clocked 24:04 to beat Boise State's Travis Armstrong by six seconds. Lagat bested the closest Pac-10 runner, Bliss Andrews of Oregon, by nearly half a minute.

Lagat is one of eight Cougar men to place first at the Pac-8/Pac-10 meet, joining past champions Gerry Lindgren (1969), John Ngeno (1972, 1974), Joshua Kimeto (1975), Henry Rono (1976, 1978, 1979), Joel Cheruiyot (1977), Richard Tuwei (1981) and Josephat Kapkory (1992, 1993).

The Cougar men will face a stiff contingent which includes No. 1 ranked Stanford, No. 3 Oregon and No. 5 Arizona. In 1997 WSU finished third behind the Cardinal and Ducks, the best finish for the Cougars since a runners-up performance in 1993.

And the WSU women will likely have an even more difficult time with six teams ranked in the top 25: No. 2 Stanford (two-time defending champion), No. 6 Arizona, No. 12 Washington, No. 15 Arizona State, No. 16 Oregon and No. 23 UCLA.

WSU's young squad boasts only one senior, Kimberly Schmolka, who battled through a bout of the flu last year and wound up 46th overall. Schmolka was 11th two weeks ago at the Oregon Invitational. The Cougars placed seventh overall at last year's conference meet, but are without their top two finishers Kristin Ritzenthaler (graduation) and Joanne Hunsinger (injured senior). Sophomore Megan Maynard, the Cougars most consistent finisher this fall, was the third WSU runner to cross in 1997 in the 34th spot.

Meanwhile, Arizona's Amy Skieresz, who last year became the first woman to capture three Pac-10 individual titles, attempts to add a fourth conference crown to her collection. Last year Skieresz breezed to a 33-second victory with a time of 16:40.

Stanford hosted the Pac-10 meet from 1972-97.

Washington State University Cross Country

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