Oct. 23, 2006
THIS WEEK: Championship season kicks off this weekend as the Washington State cross country team travels to Palo Alto, Calif., to compete in the Pac-10 Championships hosted by Stanford University...the races will take place at the Stanford Golf Course with the women's 6,000m race at 10:00 a.m. and the men's 8,000m race to follow at 11:00 a.m.
THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: WSU will face nationally-ranked conference teams Stanford (No. 5), Oregon (No. 7) Arizona (No. 25) and Washington (No. 26) in the men's race...the Cougar women face No. 1 Stanford and No. 8 Arizona State...teams will be allowed to use 10 runners with five scoring and two used for team scoring displacement...the course terrain is comprised mostly of grass with short patches of dirt, asphalt and wood...the front loop is flat while the back loop is characterized by a slight uphill and long downhill section...the men's and women's team champion receives an award....the top seven in each race will receive all-conference honors and the eighth through 14th place finishers will comprise the second team...for more information visit the Stanford University website at www.stanford.edu.
WSU MEN: The Cougars will run a full 10 competitors on the men's side...sophomore Woody Favinger looks to build upon his already strong season and improve on his 21st place finish at last year's Pac-10 Championships...juniors Chris Concha and Chris Williams and sophomore Drew Polley also look to improve from last year's finish...juniors Alex Grant and Andrew Jones along with redshirt freshman Dominic Smargiassi, freshman Dan Geib and sophomore Evan Blanshan will also be running this weekend...senior Clay Hemlock makes his first appearance of the season after recovering from a calf and foot injury.
OUTLOOK: Head Coach Jason Drake says the goal for his men's team is to compete hard against quality conference teams and place well behind Stanford and Oregon. "Placing fourth would be a really good day for us and we believe we can get up to that position if everyone is running well and healthy," Drake said. "Woody is probably our number one runner on the men's side so we hope he has a good day. If he can be in the top 15 and the rest of the team can be 30 seconds behind, we will do pretty well."
WSU WOMEN: The Cougars will run with a nine-woman team...six runners return to the conference championships with experience from last year...WSU is led by junior Haley Paul as she looks to improve on her sixth place finish from last year...juniors Meghan Leonard, Collier Lawrence and Isley Gonzalez, and seniors Kelly Ramirez and Kayle Peterson will also race for the Cougars...freshmen Chelsea VanDeBrake, Lisa Egmi and redshirt freshman Sara Trané round out the Cougar runners and look to make a solid first appearance at the Pac-10 championships.
OUTLOOK: "This year we have closed the gap with the rest of the competition in the Pac-10," Drake said. "We have a chance to take third place and I believe we can do that. The women feel confident they can accomplish this goal. Also, we are hoping Haley can place in the top five and improve from last year."
LAST YEAR AT PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: The 2005 Pac-10 Championships were held at Tuscon, Ariz...both the men's and women's races were won by Stanford...the Cougar women placed fifth while the men's team came in eighth...last year's top three WSU women were Haley Paul (6th), Kayle Peterson (37th) and Kelly Ramirez (38th)... Ryan Freimuth (16th), Woody Favinger (21th) and Drew Polley (26th) led the way for the men's team.
COUGAR HISTORY AT PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: WSU hosted the Pac-10 Championships in 2003...eight Cougar men have won the individual title since 1969...two WSU men have won the Pac-10 race in the last 20 years, Bernard Lagat (1997) and Josephat Kapkory (1992 and 1993)...Danny Wolf placed ninth in the race in 2004...the last Cougar women to place in the top 20 were Everlyne Lagat, who finished fourth in 2001, Anna Blue, who finished 20th in 2002 and Haley Paul who finished sixth in 2005...Ryan Gilmore placed 11th in 2000...Jennifer Bravard won the Pac-10 Championship in 1989, the only Cougar woman ever to take the title.
NEXT COMPETITION: The Cougars have a week off in preparation for the NCAA West Region Championships Saturday, November 11, at Portland, Ore.