Aug. 23, 1999
PULLMAN, Wash. - Bernard Lagat, Washington State University's outstanding distance runner, has relinquished his final seasons of eligibility in cross country and indoor track and field in order to compete in the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) Grand Prix Final, September 11, at Munich, Germany. Because he will be monetarily compensated for his Grand Prix participation, Lagat must forego his scholarship to WSU in accordance with the NCAA rules.
"After careful consideration, I have decided to participate in the last leg of the IAAF Grand Prix meets next month," Lagat said. "I am supremely grateful to Washington State University for giving me the opportunity to get my education and to compete in track and field and cross country."
"I have had three great years studying and training in Pullman," Lagat continued. "I would like to thank Coach Rick Sloan, his staff, and my fellow teammates, for their support during these past years. I would especially like to thank my coach, James Li, for his understanding, patience, and passing on to me his great knowledge for the sport. Without his support and guidance, I would not have been able to achieve what I have achieved today."
Lagat, a senior from Kapsabet, Kenya, ran a collegiate and school record time of 3:30.56 in the 1500m race at the Weltklasse Zurich Meet in Switzerland, Aug. 11.
A two-time cross country and nine-time track and field All-American, Lagat won the NCAA 5,000m race last June in Boise. He has competed this summer in the IAAF 1999 Grand Prix and Golden League races throughout Europe, toping the collegiate 1500m record twice this summer: Lagat clocked a 3:30.61 time at the Herculis Zepter Meet in Monaco, Aug. 4. His latest time is the third-fastest this year and makes Lagat the 14th fastest person to run the 1500m in history.
The versatile Lagat also set a school record in the rare-distance of 2000m, running a 4:55.49 at the DN Galan Meet in Stockholm, Sweden, July 30. Lagat eclipsed Joshua Kimeto's 1976 time of 5:03.7.
In the 1999 Grand Prix point standings for the men's 1500m race, Lagat is seventh with 25 points. Fellow Kenyan, Noah Ngeny, is the leader with 68 points. Ngeny won races in Stockholm and Monaco but finished second to Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, the 1500m world record-holder, at Zurich. Lagat was third in Zurich and Stockholm, second in Monaco.
Lagat will stay in Pullman and continue his studies and training at WSU. "Education has been and still will be very important to me," he said. "I plan to complete my degree in business management information systems in May of 2000."
"We all wish Bernard the best in his pursuit of a running career," Cougar coach Rick Sloan said. "He has been an extremely valuable member of our program and will be greatly missed. He is perhaps the most unselfish athlete I have coached in 26 years at WSU. His willingness to regularly put team objectives ahead of his personal goals made him invaluable in our success. I am confident that he will continue to make us and Cougar supporters everywhere proud of his accomplishments."