Oct. 31, 2008
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The Washington State women's cross country team finished fifth and the men's team placed sixth at the Pacific-10 Cross Country Championships Friday afternoon at the Springfield Country Club. The Washington women and Oregon men, both ranked first nationally, won the conference team titles.
WSU senior Sara Trané (Pixbo, Sweden) finished 18th in a time of 20-minutes, 43.33 seconds on the 6,000 meters course. In the men's race, senior Drew Polley (Port Orchard, Wash.) finished 18th on the 8,000 meters course with a time of 24:14.05.
"I felt really good today until I got tired. The conditions were really good but the course was hard to run on because it had been raining so much. It was really loud here with all the fans," Trané said. "I feel like I am just getting better and better. I really think I can improve for the NCAA West Regionals."
Junior Lisa Egami (29th) and freshman Michelly Foley (38th) were followed across the finish line by sophomore Amanda Andrews (51st) and junior Chelsea VanDeBrake (52nd) to round out the top five scorers for the women. Freshmen Mietra Smollack (53rd) and Emily Farrar (67th) finished sixth and seventh for the Cougs. The other WSU women competing were junior Marisa Sandoval, sophomore Ashlee Wall and freshman Sarah Dunn.
The No. 1 ranked Washington women's team won the title as the Huskies had runners finish first through seventh. Washington's Kendra Schaaf was the top finisher on the women's side with a time of 19:24.05. Washington finished 15 points ahead of No.2 Oregon, who finished in second with 55 points. No. 18 Stanford finished third (99 points) while No. 15 Arizona State placed fourth (105 points) and the Cougars came in fifth with 188 points. The final four teams were Oregon State (192), Arizona (199), California (209), USC (212), and UCLA (271).
"We wanted the women to get fifth-place and be ahead of Oregon State and Arizona and we did that so that is good," Drake said. "I think we could have scored a few less points but in the end it's about the team battle and we beat Oregon State so that was exciting. Everyone ran well. It was an average day for us but in the end it was our fourth, fifth and sixth runners all passing Oregon State runners with 200 meters to go and we ended up ahead of them by four points. We lose four of our top five runners from a year ago and placed the same so that is good in a tougher field this year."
Cougars men finishing behind Polley were juniors Mark Moeller at 25th, Sam Ahlbeck at 37th, and Dominic Smargiassi at 39th. WSU freshman Justin Englund crossed the line at 50th to help the Cougars to a sixth-place team finish. Other Cougs finishers included sophomore David Hickerson (52nd) and freshman Jono Lafler (53nd), followed by sophomore Luke Lemenager and senior Evan Blanshan.
"I felt good about my race today but I got a little bit excited and made a strong move a little early but it was still the best finish I've ever had a Pac-10s by quite a bit so I can't be too disappointed," Polley said. "Right now this is unquestionably the strongest conference in the nation with five ranked teams in the top 30, and there were 50 people in that race thinking they could finish in the top 20. It's tough. I'm really excited to run the 10k at Regionals and I think a lot of the guys on our team are excited. I think our training will favor that race a little bit better. I'm looking forward to it."
No. 1 Oregon won the men's team title, finishing with 28 points. No. 2 Stanford finished second with 47 points and No. 24 California and No. 25 Washington tied for third with 104 points. UCLA finished fifth (106) and Washington State placed sixth (169). The final two teams were Arizona (180) and Arizona State (198).
"It wasn't a real good day for the men," Drake said. "We finished sixth which is what we were on paper. I was hoping we could score a lot less points than that but we had an off day. Drew Polley ran well and he was up with the front pack banging it out. Mark Moeller ran really well. Sam Ahlbeck was just a little off today. Both the freshmen, Jono and Justin, came back a little better than the last race so it was good to see them do that. The conference is a lot better this year and the depth is better this year."
The Cougars will continue the season in two weeks at the NCAA West Region Championships at Palo Alto, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 15.