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WSU Cross Country Opens Season At Idaho Invitational
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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 09/03/2002
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Sept. 3, 2002

Idaho Invitational, Moscow, Idaho Friday, September 6, 2001 5:15 p.m. Women's 4,000 meter race 6 p.m. Men's four mile race
THIS WEEK: The Washington State University men's and women's cross country teams open their season with a run for the border at the Idaho Invitational hosted by the University of Idaho in Moscow...the meet takes place at the University of Idaho Golf Course...in addition to WSU and the host school, teams from Gonzaga, Lewis-Clark State, Whitman and Whitworth will also compete...the women will race on a 4,000 meter course beginning at 5:15 p.m. and the men will run four miles slated to start at 6 p.m.

NEW COACH AT THE HELM: Jason Drake, 31, was hired as the Cougar distance coach this summer after coaching at the University of Colorado for the past eight years...Drake 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...in addition, he also earned several Academic All-Big Eight Conference accolades...in 2000, Drake became the recruiting coordinator for Colorado's cross country and track and field programs...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).

HELP, I NEED SOMEBODY. HELP, NOT JUST ANYBODY: New coach Jason Drake found a less than full roster on the women's side to start the season. "We were a short on numbers this year," Drake said. "Ideally you'd want around 13 men and women and we were a little short on women this year but we ran an add in the Evergreen (student newspaper). We got a few women that were actually pretty good to come on out. One of them was a two-time state champion for 2A so that was definitely worth the trouble."

WSU WOMEN: Junior Anna Blue is the most-experienced returnee after a 22nd-finish at the 2001 NCAA West Regional Championships and 24th at the Pac-10 Championships...letterwinners Ana Cabrera, Molly Bull, Julia Corbett and Hillary Smith will be joined by freshman Julie Ross, Diana Worthen and Hailey Young...Staci Hunter transferred from Big Bend CC where she played volleyball for two years but was the state 2A champion while at Ephrata High.

DRAKE'S VIEW ON THE COUGAR WOMEN: "Anna Blue is the captain of our women's team. She's coming off of her track season last year where she qualified for the NCAA's in the 5000m. She's going to be the leader of our team. She's definitely had a good summer - better than she's ever had before. And that's the same for most of the women - Molly Bull, Ana Cabrera, Julia Corbett. I don't know what they looked like last year but according to them and what I saw in their results, they're all way ahead of where they were coming into the fall last year. Probably rounding out the top five is Hillary Smith. She's in pretty good shape and should help us out a little bit there as well."

WSU MEN: Redshirt junior Ian Johnson is the top returnee from the 2001 season...Johnson placed 32nd at the NCAA West Regional and 42nd at the Pac-10 meet...senior Kyle Barker struggled with injuries last season but recovered toward the end of the outdoor track season...sophomores Mike Heidt, Danny Wolf and Justin Ireland along with senior Mark Wicklander are the other returning letterwinners...newcomers looking to make a name for themselves are Reid Carrell, Ryan Friemuth and Nathan Cabrera, younger brother of Cougar Ana Cabrera.

DRAKE'S VIEW ON THE COUGAR MEN: "Mike Heidt had a great summer training and is looking really good. The same with Danny Wolf. They are in really good shape but still pretty young so although they are ready to go, they still don't have the experience racing. That'll come this year. Kyle Barker, who is the captain of our team, also had a good summer and all those guys appear to be ahead of where they were a year ago. Ian Johnson was one of our best guys last year on the team he didn't quite have the summer we'd hoped for so he's a little bit behind but I look for him keep improving every week. Hopefully he'll be hot come the time that counts in November. One good freshman that will probably be on our varsity immediately is Reid Carrell from Spokane. He was a two-time 1A state Champion from Freeman High School and was also state champion in track in the 2-mile and mile. He's been looking good but is so young I'm trying to hold him back a little bit right now but he's going to be a contributor. Another freshman, Ryan Friemuth, was an exceptional runner a couple years ago in high school but had ankle or foot surgery that held him back. He'll probably be red-shirting this season unless he really starts to look great in a month or so but for now we're just looking for him in the track season to do some things. Both of those guys are two freshmen who will be contributors in our program if not this year then next year."

DRAKE'S VIEW ON THIS WEEKEND'S COMPETITION: "Idaho is a good place to start (the season). Both races are a little shorter which I like right at the beginning. We are pointing towards November so I don't care what happens so much at the Idaho Invitational but it's a great chance for me to see my kids racing instead of just in practice. Funny things happen in races so I like to see them racing a little bit and turning the heat up a little bit on them. A lot of people can train well. Its just when the pressure's on what happens to them out on the course or out on a race. What you can see in practice, you think 'oh so and so looks great' but then they get in the race and you know that's where it counts. It doesn't matter what you look like in practice."

NEXT WEEK: The Cougars host the WSU Invitational in Pullman at the WSU Golf Course. Competition begins at 1 p.m. with the women running a 4,000 meter course and the men running 6,000 meters. At the meet, WSU faces regional opponents Idaho, Eastern Washington and Gonzaga.

Washington State Cougars Athletics
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