Cougars Sign Four Distance Runners

Dec. 8, 2003

PULLMAN, Wash. - Four high school seniors have signed National Letters of Intent to attend Washington State University to compete for the Cougars' Cross Country and Track & Field team, Coach Jason Drake announced Monday.

The WSU signees are: Collier Lawrence of Reno, Nev., Meghan Leonard of Newberg, Ore., Haley Paul, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Lisa Waananen, of Maple Grove, Minn.

'I am very pleased with our recruiting class so far,' said Drake. 'All four of these women are very talented and it shows that we can attract national caliber talent to WSU. They all had opportunities at some great schools and we are thrilled that they chose Washington State University to develop their talents. Add these women to our current freshman class and the future looks good for the middle and long distance program at WSU.'

Collier Lawrence, a five-time Nevada state champion in track and cross country, placed third at the 2003 Foot Locker West Regional at Mount San Antonio College at Walnut, Calif. last Saturday. She will compete at the Foot Locker National Championships Saturday at San Diego, Calif. Lawrence began her domination of the Nevada track scene as a sophomore with a state championship in the 3200 meter run. As a junior she won championships in cross country, the 1600m and 3200m. This season she successfully defended her cross country title. She will join former Reno High teammates Danny Wolf, Chris Concha, and Karen DeMartini at WSU.

Lawrence chose WSU over Arizona State and Colorado.

'I am very excited with the addition of Collier to the Cougar track and cross country program,' said Drake. 'Collier is one of the best women distance runners in the West and will make an immediate impact on our squad.'

Lisa Waananen arrives at WSU from Maple Grove Senior High where she was state cross country champion as a senior. She also won the Minnesota state championship in the 3200m run in 2003 and was the runner-up in 2002. Her personal record of 10 minutes, 29 seconds in the 3200m last year makes her one of the top returning two-milers in the country, according to Drake.

Waananen has family ties to Pullman and will be the 10th member of her family to attend WSU. Her father, Kurt was a pitcher for the Cougar baseball team in the 80s and is the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter for the Cougars. Her uncle, Dick Olsen also competed in track at WSU. Her grandfather and grandmother, Bob and Carol Smawley, are longtime Washington State and Pullman community leaders.

Waananen, a 4.0 student and a National Merit Semi-Finalist, chose the Cougars over Stanford and Minnesota.

'With Lisa's ties to Pullman she is a great fit for our program,' said Drake. 'She is one of the top two-milers in the country and an amazing individual. It will be a joy to watch her develop here in our program.'

Meghan Leonard will letter 13 times at Newberg High by the time she graduates, four times each in soccer and track, three times in cross country and twice basketball. Leonard has personal bests of 4:46 in the 1500m and 10:21 in the 3000m.

A 3.8 student, Leonard chose to join the Cougs over attending Oregon.

'Meghan is a great all-around athlete,' explained Drake. 'She has so much undeveloped talent on the track that I cannot wait to get a year of running under her belt to see what she can do. She is an extremely competitive athlete and she will bring some great depth to our distance crew.'

Haley Paul is the defending Arizona state champion in the 1600m. Paul, a 4.0 student, boasts personal records of 5:01 in the 1600m and 2:14 in the 800m.

'Haley is a very mature and wonderful athlete,' said Drake. 'She has some good leg speed and will really help us in the middle distance events and has the range to give us some depth on our cross country team.'

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