Nov. 12, 2011
Video courtesy of Paul Merca, paulmerca.blogspot.com
STANFORD - Led by the top 20 finishes of Andrew Kimpel and Jono Lafler, the Washington State men's cross country team took fourth at the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships Saturday at the Stanford Golf Course at Stanford, Calif. This is the highest NCAA regional finish for the Cougar men in more than a dozen years, and redemption from the team's sixth-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships two weeks ago.
Kimpel, a junior from Spokane, took 14th place among the 172 runners with a time of 29 minutes, 46 seconds on the 10,000 meters course. Jono Lafler, a senior from Maple Valley, Wash., finished 16th with a time of 29:47. Other Cougar men scoring included Justin Englund, senior from Federal Way, Wash., 33rd in 30:14, Todd Wakefield, a redshirt freshman from Kearns, Australia, 41st in 30:21, and Andrew Gonzales, a sophomore from Kennewick, Wash., 45th in 30:47. Competing but not scoring were Drew Jordan, a sophomore from Medford, Ore., 61st in 30:43, and Lee George, a redshirt freshman from Ferndale, Wash., 65th in 30:47.
"I executed the plan that coach wanted," Kimpel said post-race. "It was simple; just be a stone cold killer on the course."
"We ran the way we knew we could and now all of our work has paid off," Cougar co-captain Lafler said.
No. 6 Stanford won the men's team title with 50 points, followed by No. 8 Portland (53), Cal Poly (122) and Washington State (141). California was a distant fifth (173) with perennial power No. 17 Oregon sixth (175). The WSU men's team had been ranked as high as No. 20 in the USTCCCA national rankings but had fallen out of the top 30 in the latest rankings (Nov. 1) and were ranked seventh in the West Region. Arizona's Lawi Lalang, the 2011 Pac-12 champion, won the West Regional title in a time of 28:34.
The WSU women's team, running without sophomore standout Ruby Roberts, placed 14th with 378 points. Caroline Austin, a junior from Chehalis, Wash., was the first Cougar across the finish line for the 6000m course in a time of 21:19 for 40th. Other WSU women scoring at the meet included Allison Clark, a sophomore from Vancouer, Wash., 54th in 21:33, Katie Fleischer, a freshman from Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, 71st in 21:50, Sarah Bobbe, a sophomore from Vancouver, Wash., 97th in 22:10, and Courtney Zalud, a sophomore from Colbert, Wash., 116th in 22:26. Other Cougar women racing Saturday included Ramona Morshead, a sophomore from Kingston, Wash., 122nd in 22:30, and Emily Farrar, a senior from Bainbridge, Wash., 193rd in 24:14.
Oregon's Jordan Hasay won the women's race (19:44) while the No. 6 Washington women won the team title with 50 points. Following the UW in team standings were No. 16 Arizona (98), No. 8 Stanford (111), No. 11 Oregon (120), and No. 26 California (141).
"I couldn't have been more pleased with both teams today," Cougar Head Coach Pete Julian said. "The guys were indestructible today. Now we wait and see if we get an at-large bid. For the women to come back and beat a couple of the Pac-12 teams that beat up on us two weeks ago was great. There is vindication and hope and now I do the nail-biting until they announce the at-large teams."
The top two teams for each gender at the regional meets automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind. Thirteen at-large teams will be selected from around the country based on wins and points scored against teams that reached automatic qualifying. In addition to Saturday's impressive regional finish, the Cougar men's team captured a fifth-place finish at the prestigious Notre Dame Invitational Sept. 30, which should give them solid consideration for an at-large bid. The NCAA will announce at-large bids Monday, Nov. 14. The WSU men were an at-large team at the 2006 NCAA Championships where the Cougars finished 29th.