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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
WSU Cross Country Continues to Close the Gap, Shows Promise for the Future
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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 11/16/2007
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Nov. 16, 2007

THE 2007 SEASON RECAP: The Washington State University men's and women's cross country teams were led in the 2007 season by experienced seniors who make up sixth-year head coach Jason Drake's first recruiting class...women's team came on late in the season thanks to strong individual performances to finish well at the Pacific-10 Championships...men's team ran solidly throughout the season and raced against some of the best teams in the country at the Pac-10 Championships and the NCAA West Regional...sophomore Sara Trané, a Swedish import, was the top woman finisher in almost every race...senior Isley Gonzalez had the best performance of her career at the Pac-10 Championships, finishing eighth overall and received All-Pac-10 second team honors...seniors Andrew Jones and Alex Grant performed consistently for the Cougar men...junior Drew Polley led WSU at the NCAA West Regional Championships with a 25th-place finish.

POST SEASON HONORS: Two WSU harriers were awarded for excellent performances at the conference and regional levels.

Women's All-Pac-10 Team: Second Team: Isley Gonzalez, senior, Sunnyside, Wash.

Division I All-West Region Team: Drew Polley, junior, Port Orchard, Wash.

BUILDING ON FOUNDATION OF SUCCESS: As the Cougars look forward to the 2008 season the need for leadership is apparent...Coach Drake graduates six seniors, three women and four men, including both the men's and women's team captains...both squads return top runners next fall...junior Drew Polley finished 25th at the NCAA West Regional Championship, earning All-West-Region honors...redshirt sophomore Sara Trané was a consistent top finisher, including the first Cougar woman to cross the line at the Griak Invite, Pre-Nationals, and NCAA West Regionals...return of Haley Paul, an All-American as a sophomore, will add to the depth of the team...returning for the women are Amanda Andrews, Lisa Egami, Meghan Leonard, Marisa Sandoval, Chelsea VanDeBrake, Ashlee Wall...all six competed at Pac-10 Championships, and four competed at the NCAA West Regional...men's team also returns a strong core...Sam Ahlbeck, Daniel Geib, David Hickerson, Luke Lemenager, and Dominic Smargiassi competed at the Pac-10 Championships for the men...younger runners gained experience and posted finishes that show promise for the 2008 cross country squads...three freshmen, one man and two women competed at the Pac-10 Championships for the Cougars...overall WSU should be a force to be reckoned with in the fall of 2008.

WSU WOMEN: The Cougars received strong performances from three women throughout the season...sophomore Sara Trané, senior Isley Gonzalez, and junior Meghan Leonard had strong showings...WSU finished fifth at the Pac-10 Championships behind four team ranked in the top-10 in the country...senior Isley Gonzalez finished fifth individually, earning second team All-Pac-10 honors...Cougars also marked sixth place finish at the NCAA West Regionals...2006 standout runner Haley Paul did not compete due to injury.

Amanda Andrews (Fr., Gig Harbor, Wash.) Participated in five races in her first season...top finishes include fourth at the Gonzaga Preview and 32nd at the Sundodger Invitational...75th at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), eighth on the team.

Jessica Crannell (Fr., Portland, Ore.) Suited up in crimson and gray for three competitions...ran in the Gonzaga Preview, Sundodger Invitational, and Williamette Invitational.

Lisa Egami (So., Coquitlam, British Columbia) Ran in five meets for the Cougars...top-five finisher in four of those competitions...best finish of the season was 26th at the Sundodger Invitational.

Isley Gonzalez (Sr., Sunnyside, Wash.) Leading runner for the Cougars throughout the season...finished eighth at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), first on the team, to lead the team to a fifth-place team finish...earned second team All-Pac-10 honors...second WSU runner to cross the line at Pre-Nationals and NCAA West Regionals (11/10/07, Eugene).

Collier Lawrence (Sr., Reno, Nev.) Team captain...top five runner for the Cougars throughout the season...placed 37th at the Griak Invite and 36th at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), fourth on the team...59th at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), fourth on the team.

Meghan Leonard (Jr., Newberg, Ore.) Top runner for the Cougars all season...finished in the top three for the Cougars in every race she competed in...placed 23rd at Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), third on the team, and 36th at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), third on the team.

Beth Mathison (Fr., Pullman, Wash.) Redshirt season...competed unattached at the Gonzaga Preview.

Haley Paul (Sr., Phoenix, Ariz.) Did not compete due to injury...redshirt season.

Marisa Sandoval (RS-So., Los Alamos, New Mexico) Ran in three meets for WSU...best finish was 12th at the Eastern Washington University Invite...83rd at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), ninth on the team.

Stephanie Sipes (RS-Fr., Gig Harbor, Wash.) Spent fall training for spring track and field season...competed at the Gonzaga Preview.

Sara Trané (So., Pixbo, Sweden) Top finisher in every race but one...best performances include 22nd place at the Roy Griak Invite, 29th at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), second on the team, and 31st at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), first on the team.

Chelsea VanDeBrake (So., Yakima, Wash.) Competed in four races, including Pre-Nationals, the Pac-10 Championships, and the NCAA West Regional...finished 60th at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), sixth on the team...140th at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), seventh on the team.

Ashlee Wall (Fr., Walla Walla, Wash.) Participated in every race for the Cougars in her first season in crimson and gray...best finishes include first at the Gonzaga Preview, 34th at the Sundodger, and 65th at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), seventh on the team...was 98th at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), sixth on the team.

Rebecca Williams (RS-Fr., Federal Way, Wash.) Ran in four meets during the fall season...best performance was sixth at the Gonzaga Preview and 26th at the Eastern Washington University Invite.

DRAKE'S TAKE ON THE COUGAR WOMEN: "You keep thinking what if Haley had been there, it would have been a magical season. But you never know, because you don't know if the other people would have stepped up the way that they did. I thought it was great. I thought they did well. Their finish at Pac-10s was the best we've had in quite sometime and the four teams ahead of them at the time were ranked in the top seven in America, so that was probably their best race all year. In the regionals, UC Santa Barbara was just so good on that day that I don't think our best team could have beaten them. The women were a little off, but good enough to hold in the sixth place. I though it was very good for them."

WOMEN NEXT SEASON: The WSU women may have the strongest top three in years next fall. Haley Paul will return after redshirting due to injury. Coach Drake see Sara Trané continuing to improve as she transitions to the longer distance running. Meghan Leonard, another top runner for the Cougars this season, also has one season of eligibility left and may delay graduation to race one more fall season. This top three could combine into one of the most talented groups in the program's history. The real issue next season is a lack of depth, Drake said. A number of other runners have the potential to contribute, but only the off-season will tell who is ready to step into that role. Recruiting may also serve to fill the gaps left by departing seniors, Collier Lawrence and Isley Gonzalez, with a goal a finding someone who can step into the top five. None-the-less, the future looks promising for the WSU women's cross country team.

WSU MEN: The men's team was led by the strong finishes of senior Andrew Jones throughout the fall...Alex Grant was also a major contributor for the Cougar harriers...WSU finished seventh at the Pac-10 Championships and eighth at the NCAA West Regional...Drew Polley, the top WSU finisher at NCAA West Regional, was named to the 2007 Division I NCAA West All-Region team by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Sam Ahlbeck (RS-So., Renton, Wash.) finished 18th overall at the Sundodger...49th overall at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), fifth on the team, and 82nd at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), fifth on the team...also competed at the Griak Invite...placed fifth overall at the Eastern Washington University Invite.

Evan Blanshan (Jr., Selah, Wash.) Competed in four races during the fall season...finished 14th at Gonzaga Preview and 52nd at the Sundodger Invitational.

Chris Concha (Sr., Reno, Nev.) Competed in three races for the Cougars...placed 16th, third on the team, at the Sundodger Invitational...also competed at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), finishing 64th overall and eighth on the team.

Sean Coyle (Fr., Veradale, Wash.) Competed in four races as a first year runner for WSU...won at the Gonzaga Preview...also competed at Sundodger Invitational, Williamette Invitational, and Pre-Nationals.

Woody Favinger (Jr., Bellingham, Wash.) Competed in two races for WSU...placed fifth at Gonzaga Preview.

Dan Geib (So., Reno, Nev.) Consistently finished in the top five...best finishes include fourth overall at Gonzaga Preview, 48th overall and fourth on the team at the Pac-10 Championships (10/2707, Corvallis), and 55th at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), fourth on the team.

Alex Grant (Sr., Bellingham, Wash.) Finished in the top three in every race he competed in...best finish was 16th at the Griak Invite, second on the team...other top performances include third at the Gonzaga Preview, 30th at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), second on the team, and 34th overall and third on the team at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene).

Bob Hewitt-Gaffney (RS-Fr., Gillette, Wyo.) Competed at the Sundodger Invitational for the Cougars, placing 12th.

David Hickerson (Fr., Spokane, Wash.) Competed in five races for WSU...placed second at the Gonzaga Preview, 21st at the Sundodger, and 98th at the Griak Invite...ran at Pre-Nationals (40th), and Pac-10 Championships (67th) finishing ninth on the team.

Andrew Jones (Sr., Gillette, Wyo.) Leading runner for the Cougars throughout the fall season...finished third overall at the Sundodger Invite and 13th at the Griak Invite...top finisher for the Cougars at Pre-Nationals (62nd overall) and the Pac-10 Championships (23rd)...finished 27th at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), second on the team.

Luke Lemenager (RS-Fr., Maple Valley, Wash.) raced in five meets during the cross country season...competed at Pac-10 Championships and Pre-Nationals...finished 34th at the Williamette Invite and 44th at the Sundodger Invitational...came in 52nd overall at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), sixth on the team, and 105th at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), seventh on the team.

Peter Miller (Fr., Spokane, Wash.) Redshirt season...ran unattached at the Gonzaga Preview.

Drew Polley (Jr., Port Orchard, Wash.) Consistently a scoring runner for WSU...best finish of the season was 25th overall at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene), first on the team...other top performances include 34th at the Griak Invite, 83rd at the Pre-Nationals, and 34th overall at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis) and third on the team.

Dominic Smargiassi (RS-So., Auburn, Wash.) Competed in five races for the Cougars...scoring runner in three, the Sundodger Invite (20th overall), the Griak Invite (68th), and Pre-Nationals (125th)...finished 57th overall at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis) and seventh on the team...was 84th overall and sixth on the team at the NCAA West Regional (11/10/07, Eugene).

Jeremy Swenson (Fr., Shoreline, Wash.) Redshirt season...competed unattached at the Gonzaga Preview.

Chris Williams (Sr., Federal Way, Wash.) Ran in five meets...best finishes include 10th at the Sundodger Invite and 54th at the Griak Invite...also competed at Pre-Nationals...finished 74th overall at the Pac-10 Championships (10/27/07, Corvallis), and tenth on the team.

Eric Zeuthen (So., Portland, Ore.) Redshirt season...transferred to WSU from Portland.

DRAKE'S TAKE ON THE COUGAR MEN: "I thought they were a better team than we were a year ago. We are a different team if Woody is running well because that gives us four instead of those three guys running in front. I thought we were as good of a team as we were a year ago. We snuck in to the NCAA Championships a year ago, and I thought maybe we could still sneak in this year even with out Woody. Our top three guys were phenomenal. Overall I thought they did well; Andrew had his best year he's had, Alex had a great year, and Drew finished up with his best finish ever. We were just lacking the depth on that team."

MEN NEXT SEASON: The biggest question for the 2008 season on the men's team will be leadership. The Cougars have plenty of talent and Drew Polley finished the fall with a season-best performance at the NCAA West Regional Championship, but four seniors are graduating, including the top two runners from this season. "We do need someone who will crack the whip and little bit," said Drake. "And is not afraid to get on these guys and bring them together. Because they're going to really need to come together to have the success the team's had the last couple years." Drake hopes that someone will emerge during the coming track season and will be ready to lead the team next fall. The Cougars have the talent and the experience to be successful next season. It may come down to whether or not there is a runner able to bring all of the talent and experience together.

Washington State Cougars Athletics
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