WSU Men's Cross Country Finish Strong with At-Large Berth to NCAA Championships

Dec. 4, 2006

THE 2006 SEASON: The WSU Cross Country teams began the 2006 season with the largest field of returning runners in Head Coach Jason Drake's five years with the program...both teams made decent showings at the championship season meets including the men's at-large berth to the NCAA Championships at Terre Haute, Ind...several talented freshmen emerged from the pack over the course of the of the Cougar female harriers, junior Haley Paul, continued her success and solidified herself as one of the best female cross country athletes in Cougar history...sophomore Woody Favinger, in his second year of competition, was the top scorer on the men's side in nearly every competition...battled closely by juniors Alex Grant and Andrew Jones...fifth-year Head Coach Jason Drake is optimistic about the team and individual accomplishments and is excited about the depth the team brings to the 2007 season.

REBUILDING COMPLETE: The 2007 season has the potential to be an extremely strong one...all Cougar runners will return with the exception of Clay Hemlock, Kelly Ramirez and Kayle Peterson...Drake has successfully recruited all the current runners in the program...two freshman, Dan Geib of the men's team and Chelsea VanDeBrake of the women's team, broke out as scoring runners for the Cougs...junior Haley Paul still has one more year of competition to build upon her 18th place finish at the NCAA West the start of competition next year, the Cougars will have six men and two women on the team who have run in a Pre-National, Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional Championship race...Drake says that both teams bring back solid depth and will be more competitive at the championship races in 2007.


Junior Haley Paul was the standout performer of the a team, the Cougar women ran to a sixth place finish at the Pac-10 Championships, at Stanford, and placed ninth in the team standings at the NCAA West Regionals, at Portland.

Karen DeMartini (Sr., Reno, Nev.) Finished 119th at Sundodger Invite finish was 34th at Montana Invitational.

Lisa Egami (Fr., Coquitlam, British Columbia) Best finish was 16th at the Idaho Jamboree...placed 67th at Sundodger Invite, 24th at Montana Invitational, 39th at Pac-10 Championships and 71st at NCAA West Regionals.

Isley Gonzalez (Jr., Sunnyside, Wash.) Consistently among the women's top five finishers...highest finish on the season was third place at Idaho Jamboree and Montana Invitational...placed 16th at Sundodger Invite...finished 105th at Pre-Nationals, 38th at Pac-10 Championships, and 70th at NCAA West Regional meet.

Collier Lawrence (So., Reno, Nev.) Consistently among the women's top five finishers...highest finish was fifth at Idaho Jamboree...ninth at Sundodger Invite, 10th at Montana Invitational, 103rd at Pre-Nationals and 31st at Pac-10 Championships.

Anna Layman (Fr., Spokane Valley, Wash.) Did not compete for WSU in 2006.

Meghan Leonard (Jr., Newberg, Ore.) Season highlights included finishing fourth at Idaho Jamboree, 28th at Sundodger Invite and 17th at Montana Invitational...133rd at Pre-Nationals and 45th at Pac-10 Championships.

Piper Marshall (Fr., Honolulu, Hawaii) Best finish was 22nd at Idaho Jamboree...placed 131st at Sundodger Invite, 44th at Montana Invitational.

Alyssa Modrell (So., Snohomish, Wash.) Competed in two races for finish was 18th place at Idaho Jamboree...finished 41st at Montana Invitational.

Haley Paul (Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.) First Cougar woman across the finish line in five out of six races this season...won Montana Invitational...placed second at Sundodger Invite...finished 21st at Pre-Nationals meet, 11th at Pac-10, and 18th at NCAA West Regionals...named to the 2006 women's All-Pac-10 second team.

Kayle Peterson (Sr., Port Orchard, Wash.) Highest finish was 13th at Idaho Jamboree...placed 63rd at Sundodger Montana Invitational, finished in 20th place...74th at Pac-10 Championships.

Kelly Ramirez (Sr., Duvall, Wash.) Team captain for the women's finish was seventh at Idaho Jamboree...finished 29th at the Sundodger Invite, 14th at Montana Invitational, 115th at Pre-Nationals and 37th at Pac-10 Championships.

Marisa Sandoval (So., Los Alamos, New Mexico) Did not compete for WSU in 2006.

Stephanie Sipes (Fr., Gig Harbor, Wash.) Competed as an unattached runner in three races...highest place finish was 14th at Idaho Jamboree...finished 94th at Sundodger Invite and 25th at Montana Invitational.

Sara Trané (RS-Fr., Pixbo, Sweden) Redshirt season...emerged as a top 5-7 runner in first year of collegiate finish was ninth at Idaho Jamboree...placed 18th at Montana Invitational, 155th at Pre-Nationals, 44th at Pac-10 Championships and 72nd at NCAA West Regionals.

Chelsea VanDeBrake (Fr., Yakima, Wash.) Ran in every race WSU competed in...emerged as a standout runner for finish was second as an unattached runner at Idaho Jamboree...placed 33rd at Sundodger Invite, eighth at Montana Invitational, 99th at Pre-Nationals, 41st at Pac-10 Championships and 83rd at NCAA West Regionals.

Rebecca Williams (Fr., Federal Way, Wash.) Competed as an unattached runner in three finish was 17th at Idaho Jamboree...placed 62nd at Sundodger Invite and 30th at Montana Invitational.

DRAKE'S THOUGHTS ON THE COUGAR WOMEN:'The women were a little disappointed at the final outcome as they were hoping for a little bit more. We were definitely better than we were a year ago, which is always a goal. Unfortunately, the conference does get better every year as well. As a whole, we ran better than last year at the Pac-10 Championships and even at the NCAA West Regionals but we just didn't do what we needed, to beat some other teams. Ultimately, the conference and region are getting better each year as well. Next year, the women should be a team that can get to the nationals.'

WSU MEN:The men's team season was highlighted by several standout performances at the Championship meets...sophomore Woody Favinger led the team to a 29th place finish at the NCAA Championships...the WSU male harriers finished eighth at the NCAA West Regionals, led by junior Alex Grant.

Sam Ahlbeck (So., Renton, Wash.) Redshirt season...competed unattached in three finish was 10th place at Idaho Jamboree...finished 26th at Sundodger Invite and 11th at Montana Invitational.

Derry Betts (So., Edmonds, Wash.) Competed in one race for the Cougar men...finished 60th at Sundodger Invite.

Evan Blanshan (So., Selah, Wash.) Ran in three races for WSU...finished 14th at Idaho Jamboree, 47th at Sundodger Invite and 30th at Montana Invitational.

Chris Concha (Jr., Reno, Nev.) Best finish was seventh at Idaho Jamboree...finished 38th at the Sundodger Invite, 16th at Montana Invitational...placed 215th at Pre-Nationals and 69th at Pac-10 Championships.

Woody Favinger (So., Bellingham, Wash.) Men's front-runner and highest placer in nearly every meet this season... finished a season best second at Idaho Jamboree...was third place at Montana Invitational...led the men with a 44th place finish at Pre-Nationals and 18th at Pac-10 Championships...finished 25th at NCAA West Regional meet...first Cougar and 92nd place overall finish at the NCAA Championships.

Dan Geib (Fr., Reno, Nev.) Emerged as a standout runner for WSU...ran in every race WSU competed finish was an unattached victory at Idaho Jamboree...placed 15th at Sundodger Invite and fifth at Montana Invitational...finished 226th at Pre-Nationals, 102nd at Pac-10 Championships and 211th at NCAA Championships.

Alex Grant (Jr., Bellingham, Wash.) Team captain for the men's three runner and scorer for WSU...won Montana Invitational...placed fourth at Idaho Jamboree...finished 86th at Pre-Nationals and 19th at Pac-10 Championships...led the team at 23rd place at NCAA West Regionals...ended season with 123rd place finish at NCAA Championships.

Clay Hemlock (Sr., Ferndale, Wash.) Competed in only three races for WSU due to foot and calf injury...season best 60th place at Pac-10 Championships...finished 66th at NCAA West Regionals and 166th at NCAA Championships.

Andrew Jones (Jr., Gillette, Wyo.) One of top three scorers for WSU in every race in 2006...finished a season best fifth place at Idaho Jamboree...placed seventh at both the Sundodger Invite and Montana Invitational...85th at Pre-Nationals, 34th at Pac-10 Championships, 42nd at NCAA West Regionals and 115th at NCAA Championships.

Luke Lemenager (Fr., Maple Valley, Wash.) Redshirt season...ran unattached in four races...season best 9th place finish at Montana Invitational...placed 12th at Idaho Jamboree, sixth at Eastern Washington Invitational and 45th at Sundodger Invite.

Dan Lucero (So., Port Angeles, Wash.) Did not compete for WSU in 2006.

Drew Polley (So., Port Orchard, Wash.) One of the top five scorers for WSU in finish was at Idaho Jamboree, where he placed third...finished 9th at Sundodger Invite...placed 194th at Pre-Nationals and 49th at Pac-10 Championships...ended the season with a 46th place finish at NCAA West Regionals and a 99th place finish at NCAA Championships.

Dominic Smargiassi (RS-Fr., Auburn, Wash.) Finished a season best 11th place at Idaho Jamboree...placed 51st at Sundodger Invite, 20th at Montana Invitational and 71st at Pac-10 Championships.

Chris Williams (Jr., Federal Way, Wash.) Ran in every race WSU competed finishes were sixth place at Idaho Jamboree and Montana Invitational...placed 18th at Sundodger Invite, 123rd at Pre-Nationals, 40th at Pac 10-Championships, 77th at NCAA West Regional meet and 184th at NCAA Championships.

DRAKE'S THOUGHTS ON THE COUGAR MEN:Head Coach Jason Drake emphasized the depth and continuity the team will transfer into the 2007 season. 'Going to the NCAA Championships was the highlight for the men and qualifying at the regional race was also exciting for them. Earning a spot at nationals was their goal at the start of the season. They ran really well at the regional meet and it was a little bit of a surprise that they got in due to their eighth place finish at the regional meet. We knew we could go to the regional meet and beat some good teams and probably get in, so in the end it worked out well.'

PAC-10 HONORS: Six women and five men on the WSU cross country teams were named to the 2006 Pacific-10 Conference Cross Country All-Academic teams.

Women's All-Pac-10 Team

Second Team: Haley Paul, junior, Phoenix, Ariz.

Women's All-Academic Team

First team: Haley Paul, junior, Phoenix, Ariz., (3.94 GPA, Anthropology) and Sara Trané, redshirt freshman, Pixbo, Sweden, (3.97 GPA, Movement Studies).

Honorable mention: Collier Lawrence, junior, Reno, Nev. (Movement Studies), Meghan Leonard, sophomore, Newberg, Ore. (Movement Studies), Kayle Peterson, senior, Port Orchard, Wash. (Business), and Kelly Ramirez, senior, Duvall, Wash. (Biology).

Men's All-Academic Team

First team: Woody Favinger, sophomore, Bellingham, Wash. (3.70 GPA, Business).

Second team: Drew Polley, sophomore, Bellingham, Wash. (3.73 GPA, Civil Engineering).

Honorable mention: Alex Grant, junior, Bellingham, Wash. (Environmental Science), Andrew Jones, junior, Gillette, Wyo. (Wildlife Ecology), and Chris Williams, junior, Federal Way, Wash. (Education).

WOMEN NEXT SEASON: The Cougars will have a strong core of senior leadership who have all been recruited by coach Drake next season. Drake predicts one of the highest finishes in recent years as the overall team experience in the championship meets will greatly benefit the WSU harriers. 'We have such great depth on the women's side, from our second to our eighth runner; we have so many people in there,' Drake said. 'Some of our freshmen will be another year older so that will be some nice depth as well. We just need to have the women's group be 20 seconds better than they are right now.'

MEN NEXT SEASON: Drake looks forward to all the potential the men's squad will have in 2007. The team will welcome back juniors to be Woody Favinger and Drew Polley, two of the men's front-runners who still have two years of competition. Alex Grant and Andrew Jones, also front-runners, return to competition. 'We return so many on the men's team and we redshirted Sam Ahlbeck and Luke Lemenager, so those guys will be major contributors on the varsity team next year,' Drake said. 'We are a little short on the men's side with the fifth man, so we need someone to step up. Hopefully Ahlbeck or Lemenager can fill the bill. With all those guys returning, a handful of seniors, and a team that just got to the nationals, we are hoping that next year they can go there again. Instead of getting eight in the region, we are hoping for a top five finish.'

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