Dr. James Li has worked with the Cougar track and field and cross country programs for over ten years, and was named the head coach of Washington State Universityís cross country program in 1998.
Behind Liís guidance, Cougar distance great Bernard Lagat won the Bronze medal in the 1500m at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and a silver medal at the 2001 IAAF World Championships. Lagat clocked a 1500m time of 3:26.34, less than four tenths of a second from the world record and the second fastest time in history at that distance.
Li directed the Cougar men to 18th place at the 1998 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Lawrence, Kansas, after a 14-year absence from the national meet as a team. He also has the distinction of coaching both of WSUís women cross country All-Americans: Megan Maynard, who finished 22nd at the 1998 NCAA Championships, and Everlyne Lagat, who finished 30th at the 2001 national meet.
A native of the Peopleís Republic of China, Li was a middle distance runner during his high school and collegiate days. Ranked as one of the top junior runners in China in 1978, he attended the Beijing Institute of Physical Education. He won the collegiate 800m title in 1979, and was ranked seventh in China in 1980, ninth in 1982.
Following graduation in 1982, Li became a full-time track coach at the Sichuan Sports Technique Institute from 1983-85. Li received his Masterís of Science degree in exercise science from WSU in 1987. He completed his Ph.D. in Educational/Athletic Administration from WSU in 1993.
While at WSU, Li served as a graduate assistant coach from 1985-90. He returned to Pullman in the fall of 1994, serving as cross country coach and assistant track and field coach. He has coached nine Cougars to All-America and or Pac-10 Championships.
Li was the men's track and field head coach of the Minnesota State University at Mankato, a Division II program, from 1990-94. His teams finished fourth at the 1992 NCAA Div. II Indoor Championships, and 13th in the 1993 national indoor championships. During 1992-94, the Mavericks finished in the top three in all the North Central Conference Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Li and his wife, Jean, have two sons, Allen and Anthony.
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