Sept. 26, 2002
Jason Drake was named head cross country coach at Washington State University last summer, replacing James Li who accepted a similar position at the University of Arizona.
Drake, 31, has been the distance coach at the University of Colorado for the past eight years and takes over the Cougar distance program.
"We're sorry to see Dr. James Li leave and wish him all the best at the University of Arizona," cross country director Rick Sloan said. "Cougar cross country and distance running is taking a new direction under Jason Drake. Jason has been instrumental in bringing in the recruiting classes that made the University of Colorado a national cross country and distance power. He has an outstanding background in the middle distance and long distance training of athletes at the collegiate level and has taken middle-of-the-road talent and developed them into all-Americans. We look forward to continuing the excellence we've had at Washington State University over the years. Coach Drake brings a different philosophy of recruiting and training, and its going to be a very positive addition to our track and field staff."
Drake had a stellar prep career at Campbell County High School, Gillette, Wyoming. He is a 1994 graduate of Colorado, where he was a middle distance runner for the Buffalos competing in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. He earned All-America honors as a member of CU's 1994 indoor distance medley relay team. Drake earned several Academic All-Big Eight Conference accolades on his way to earning a bachelor of science degree in environmental conservation.
Drake became the recruiting coordinator for Colorado's cross country and track and field programs in 2000, in addition to his long and middle distance coaching duties. He recruited and assisted in coaching all members of the Colorado women's 2000, and men's 2001 national championship cross country teams.
In 1999, Drake founded the Colorado Elite Track Club, a nonprofit club for post-collegiate female middle and long distance runners. Among the professional members are several outstanding runners: Shayne Culpepper (2000 Olympic team 1500m and two World Cross Country teams), Janet Trujillo (2002 World Cross Country team and fifth place in 2001 USATF 1500m Outdoor Championships), and Sarah Toland (2002 World Cross Country team).
Drake has also worked part time as a geographic information systems consultant including creating databases for the U.S. Department of Energy and private firms. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys mountain biking, water and snow skiing in addition to running.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to have a great cross country program at Washington State," Drake said. "Coach Li has had some success in the past and I hope to continue that success. Being in the Pac-10 is especially exciting. It is a great conference and one of the best for track and field for sure."
WSU Women's Team
Coach Jason Drake enters his first season heading the WSU Women's Cross Country team. Drake, an assistant coach for Colorado, has struggled to rebuild the program but still looks to have girls that can compete well for the Cougs. "We were a little short on women this year but we ran an ad in the evergreen and got a few women that were actually pretty good," said Drake.
One of the women that found her way into the program is Stacy Hunter, a 2A state champion in cross country, who is a transfer student from Big Bend CC. She played volleyball while at Big Bend but Drake feels that if they work carefully with her she could be a big help to the program.
Drake also has some experience returning on the women's side. Junior Anna Blue is coming back after a track season in which she qualified for the NCAA's in the 5000m. Blue will be taking over as the captain and Drake expects her to do big things this season. She's definitely had a good summer," Drake said, "better summer than she's ever had before."
Three other women Drake expects to help are Molly Bull, Ana Cabrera, and Julia Corbett. All three have had a good summer of training and according to Drake are way ahead of where they were last Fall. Drake is looking forward to seeing what these three can do once they hit the season.
Probably rounding out the top five for the women's side is Hillary Smith. The red shirt junior from Reno, Nevada is in good shape and is looking to move up the depth chart on the cougar roster. Joining Smith on the roster is freshman Julie Ross, Diana Worthen and Hailey Young.
WSU Men's Team
Inexperience is the biggest concern for new coach Jason Drake's men's cross country team. "Although there ready to go they still don't have the experience racing," Said Drake of his young team. "That'll come this year."
Mike Heidt and Danny Wolf are two of the runners Drake is talking about. Both have plenty of natural ability but still lack the experience of running collegiate races. Drake hopes to get them that experience by the end of the season for the Pac-10 championship and the Regional Championship.
Kyle Barker and Ian Johnson are WSU's best returning runners from last season. Barker will be leading the way as the teams captain and has also had a great summer training session. Johnson, on the other hand had a rougher summer training time. "He's a little bit behind but I look for him to every week to keep improving. Hopefully he'll be hot come the time that counts in November," Said Drake.