Cross Country Faces Important Meet At NCAA West Regionals

Nov. 7, 2001

NCAA West Regional Championship, Randolph Golf Course, Tucson, Ariz.
Saturday, November 10, 2001

8:30 a.m. PST Men's 10,000 meter race
9:30 a.m. PST Women's 6,000 meter race

THIS WEEK: The Washington State University men's and women's cross country teams travel to Tucson, Ariz., for the 2001 NCAA West Regional Championship, Saturday, Nov. 10. The men's 10,000 meter race begins at 8:30 a.m. PST, followed by the women's 6,000 meter contest at 9:30 a.m. PST.

The Cougars will face 31 teams in the race, including all the teams from the Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Oct. 27. The top two teams earn automatic berths to the NCAA Championships, while at-large bids will be given out Monday, Nov. 12. With a total of nine regions in the country, 18 teams earn automatic bids to NCAA's, while the remainder of the 32-team field will be filled out with at-large bids. Four individuals from each region, who are not on qualifying teams also earn at-large bids, as well as two more individuals nationally.

'On the men's side, I think we will see at least five, and possibly as many as seven teams from the west region qualify,' WSU Head Coach James Li said. 'And for the women probably five teams will qualify, because our region has so many strong teams.'

WSU WOMEN: The Cougar women have been led this season by newcomer Everlyne Lagat, a junior transfer from Malone College in Ohio, and the younger sister of former WSU standout and Olympic Bronze Medallist Bernard Lagat. Lagat has consistently been the Cougars' strongest runner this year, placing 34th at the Pre-NCAA Invitational and eighth at the Roy Griak Invitational, both with fields of 300 or more runners. Her fourth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships was the highest at a Pac-10's since Jennifer Bravard placed fourth in 1992. Junior Anna Blue and senior Ryan Gilmore have also been helping to pace the Cougar women. The pair placed 24th and 38th, respectively, at the Pac-10 Championships. They too will be looking to end their season on a high note at the NCAA West Regional.

WSU MEN: The Washington State men's cross country team has cruised along through the early portion of the 2001 season. The Cougars defeated intrastate rival Washington on its home course in winning the Sundodger Invitational, battled a 37 team field to place 12th at the Furman Pre-NCAA Invitational, and had run themselves to a No. 26 national ranking in the U.S. Cross Country Coaches Association Poll going into the Pac-10 Championships. However, in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Cougar men suffered in 90-degree temperatures and finished seventh in the conference. Sophomore Ian Johnson has consistently led WSU this season, placing 25th and 28th in fields of over 300 runners at major invitational races, but struggled and placed 42nd at the Pac-10's. Senior Oscar Franco-Parra did run well, placing 16th overall, but senior Jon Welsh had to drop out of the race before finishing. The team looks to redeem itself with a strong performance at the NCAA West Regional, Saturday.

NEXT WEEK: Those who qualify will head to Greenville, S.C. for the NCAA Championships Monday, Nov. 19.

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