Oct. 17, 2009
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The Washington State men's cross country team took seventh place in the Blue Race at the Indiana State University Pre-Nationals Invitational at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind., Saturday, while the Cougar women placed 28th in the White Race.
The Washington State men's team scored 274 points and was one of two teams without national ranking that finished ahead of four top 30-ranked teams. Oregon won the 35-team men's Blue race with 79 points and had the top individual in Luke Puskedra who posted a time of 23 minutes, 40.2 seconds.
"The men certainly had a breakthrough day," WSU coach Pete Julian said. "They competed extremely well against some of the very best teams in the country. I would expect it was valuable for our goal to make it to nationals. We had a couple of standouts in Jono Lafler and Dan Geib. Anytime you finish in the top 50 in a race of this magnitude is special so that was exciting to see and it was certainly a big jump for those two. In the end, the entire men's team ran incredibly strong and ran with a different intensity."
The Cougars were led by sophomore Jono Lafler (Maple Valley) who placed 40th in the 8,000 meter race with a time of 24:36.5. The rest of the Cougar scorers included junior Dan Geib, 45th (24:39.7), senior Sam Ahlbeck, 49th (24:42.0), senior Mark Moeller, 60th (24:47.8), and freshman Andrew Kimpel, 80th (24:57.4). WSU men competing out of the scoring were senior Dominic Smargiassi, 119th (25:25.5) and sophomore Peter Miller, 157th (25:51.7).
"I thought we did amazing," Lafler said. "We had a 22-seconds spread which was a shock to all of us. We did really well compared to what we should have done. I got out a little better than everyone else and settled on a perfect spot."
The Cougar women scored 674 points in the 6,000m race with senior Lisa Egami (Coquitlam, B.C.) leading WSU with a 55th place finish with a time of 21:40.8. Other Cougar scorers included senior Chelsea VanDeBrake, 117th (22:20.8), sophomore Emily Farrar, 137th (22:30.7), senior Marisa Sandoval, 179th (23:03.5), and junior Amanda Andrews, 186th (23:07.2). Cougar women competing but not scoring were freshman Caroline Austin, 223rd (23:48.7) and junior Ashlee Wall, 226th (23:58.1). Freshman Alyssa Andrews was not able to compete due to injury.
Angela Bizzarri from Illinois won the women's White race with a time of 20:27.8. Washington was the top squad among the 37 women's teams with 59 points and had three runners place in the top five.
"On the women's side, it was a bit of a tougher day but I did see some things that I am quite pleased about," Julian said. "The women were moving well throughout the race. They started out a little bit back which is not what we had planned but they are things that we can fix and I am fully confident that the women will get better. Lisa Egami had a solid race. I think she could do a little better but she ran pretty well. The women were fully confident as were the men and we are only going to get faster."
The Cougar cross country teams next competition is Oct. 30, at the Pacific-10 Championships at Long Beach, Calif.