Cross Country Takes On Talented Field At Pac-10 Championships

Oct. 24, 2001

PULLMAN--The Washington State University men's and women's cross country teams compete in Scottsdale, Ariz., Saturday, at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships hosted by Arizona State University. The men's 8k race features five teams ranked in the top-25 by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association, in addition to the No. 26 Cougars. Among the seven teams the WSU men will race against (USC and Oregon State do not sponsor men's cross country) are No. 2 Stanford, No. 13 Arizona, No. 19 Arizona State, No. 20 Oregon and No. 24 Washington, which WSU defeated earlier this year in winning the Sundodger Invitational at Seattle.

The WSU women will face an equally tough field of nine teams in their 6k race (Oregon State does not sponsor women's cross country), also with five teams ranked in the top-25. Ranked teams the Cougars will race against include No. 1 Stanford, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 11 Arizona, No. 13 Washington and No. 22 UCLA.

'In the conference, it all comes down to one big meet,' WSU Head Coach James Li said. 'The Pac-10 is extremely strong, with five teams ranked in the top-25 on both the men's and women's side. It will be a very tough competition, but we've been running well in training. I really have confidence in the team performing well this weekend, then running even better two weeks later at the NCAA Regional Championships.'

WSU WOMEN: The WSU women, who placed fifth at last year's Pac-10 Championships, send a squad composed of seniors Ryan Gilmore, Jenny Filipy, April Gagner, juniors Everlyne Lagat, Anna Blue, sophomore Hillary Smith, and freshman Molly Bull. Lagat has consistently been the Cougars' strongest runner up to this point in the season, placing 34th at the Pre-NCAA Invitational and eighth at the Roy Griak Invitational, both with fields of 300 or more runners. Blue has consistently been the WSU women's no. 2 runner this year, and looks to improve upon her 47th-place finish at the 2000 Pac-10's. Gilmore, who led WSU by placing 11th at last season's Pac-10 Championships, also looks to help pace the Cougar women.

WSU MEN: The Cougar men have ran their way to a No. 26 ranking after battling hot, humid conditions and tough competition at the Pre-NCAA Invitational to place 12th in a 37-team field. At the Pac-10 Championships, WSU, which placed seventh at the 2000 Pac-10's, will be represented by seniors Oscar Franco-Parra, Jon Welsh, Scott Johnson, juniors Kyle Barker, Mark Wicklander, sophomore Ian Johnson and freshman Mike Heidt. The Cougar men have consistently been led this season by Ian Johnson, a graduate of University High School in Spokane, Wash., who has placed 25th and 28th against fields of over 300 runners in the team's last two meets. Washington State will also need a strong performance this week by seniors Jon Welsh and Oscar Franco-Parra, who led the Cougars by placing 21st and 22nd, respectively, at last year's Pac-10 Championships.

NEXT WEEK: The Cougars have another competition-free weekend to train for the NCAA West Regional Championships that will determine who qualifies for the NCAA Championships. The meet takes place Saturday, November 10 in Tuscon, Ariz.

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