WSU Cross Country closes the gap; anticipates strong 2006 season

Jan. 10, 2006

THE 2005 SEASON: The WSU Cross Country teams began the 2005 season with several unknowns, especially on the men's side...many talented runners emerged from the pack over the course of the of the Cougar female harriers, sophomore Haley Paul, solidified herself as one of, if not the best, female cross country athlete in Cougar history...redshirt freshman Woody Favinger, in his first year of competition, was the top scorer on the men's side in nearly every competition...battled closely by redshirt junior Ryan Friemuth and redshirt freshman Drew Polley...both teams made decent showings at the championship season meets, although there were some injuries on the women's side...third-year Head Coach Jason Drake is optimistic about the team and individual accomplishments, and excited about the 2006 season.

REBUILDING COMPLETE: The 2006 season has the potential to be an extremely strong one...all Cougar runners will return with the exception of senior Justin Ireland...two freshman, Drew Polley of the men's team and Marisa Sandoval of the women's team, broke out as scoring runners for the Cougs...sophomore Haley Paul still has two years of competition to build upon her 14th place finish at the NCAA Championships...Paul had the best-ever NCAA performance by any WSU woman in cross the start of competition next year, the Cougars will have eight men and eight women on the team who have run in a Pre-National, Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional Championship race....Coach Drake says with this experience, as well as the return of Alex Grant and Andrew Jones (both redshirted 2005), both the men and women will be more competitive in the team standings at the championship races in 2006.


Sophomore Haley Paul was the standout performer of the a team the Cougar women ran to an fifth place finish at the Pac-10 Championships and placed eighth in the team standings at NCAA West Regionals.

Kelli Dahlquist (Jr., Castle Rock, Wash.) First year with the WSU cross country squad... placed 122nd at Sundodger finish was 36th at Eastern Washington Invitational.

Michelle DeCourcey (So., Portland, Ore.) Did not compete for WSU in 2005.

Karen DeMartini (Jr., Reno, Nev.) Finished 95th at Sundodger Invite ... placed 39th at Montana finish was 25th at Eastern Washington Invitational...80th at Pac-10 Championships.

Selena Galaviz (RS-Fr., Toppenish, Wash.) Competed in four finish was 23rd at Idaho Jamboree...finished 53rd at Montana Invitational and 40th at Eastern Washington Invitational.

Isley Gonzalez (So., Sunnyside, Wash.) Best finish was third place at Idaho Jamboree...placed 17th at Sundodger Invitational...finished seventh at Montana Invitational, 178th at Pre-Nationals, 55th at Pac-10 Championships, and 85th at NCAA West Regional meet.

Kristi Jensen (Fr., Kennewick, Wash.) Had a season-best finish of 15th place at Idaho Jamboree...finished 96th at Sundodger Invite, 41st at Montana Invitational and 30th at Eastern Washington Invitational.

Collier Lawrence (So., Reno, Nev.) Was consistently among the women's top five finishers...placed fourth at Idaho Jamboree, 20th at Sundodger Invitational, ninth at Montana Invitational, and 78th at Pac-10 Championships.

Meghan Leonard (RS-Fr., Newberg, Ore.) Number two runner for Cougar women behind sophomore Haley Paul...season highlights included finishing second at Idaho Jamboree, 11th at Sundodger Invitational and sixth at Montana Invitational...also 100th at Pre-Nationals, 41st at Pac-10 Championships and 35th at NCAA West Regional meet.

Casey Maus (Fr., Lakewood, Wash.) Competed in four races for WSU...finished 22nd at Idaho Jamboree, 119th at Sundodger Invite, 51st at Montana Invitational and 38th at Eastern Washington Invitational.

Alyssa Modrell (Fr., Snohomish, Wash.) Competed in two races for finish was 20th place at Idaho Jamboree...sat out the remainder of the season for medical reasons.

Eileen Morley (So., Port Orchard, Wash.) Ran in four meets for the Cougars...finished 12th at Idaho Jamboree, 109th at Sundodger Invite, 49th at Montana Invitational and 32nd at Eastern Washington Invitational.

Haley Paul (So., Phoenix, Ariz.) Was the first Cougar woman across the finish line in every race this season...won Idaho Jamboree, Sundodger Invitational and Montana Invitational...placed 21st at Brooks Pre-Nationals meet, sixth at Pac-10 Championships to make the All-Conference First Team, and ninth at NCAA West Regionals to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships...placed 14th at NCAA National Championship meet, earning All-American honors...named captain of women's squad for 2006 season.

Kayle Peterson (Jr., Port Orchard, Wash.) Was a top five runner for WSU this season... placed 42nd at Sundodger race of the season came at Montana Invitational with a 20th place finish...was 37th at Pac-10 Championships and 87th at NCAA West Regional meet.

Kelly Ramirez (Jr., Duvall, Wash.) Emerged as a top five scorer this finish was sixth place at Idaho Jamboree...finished 29th at the Sundodger Invite, eighth at Montana Invitational, 104th at Pre-Nationals, 38th at Pac-10 Championships and 86th at NCAA West Regional meet.

Marisa Sandoval (Fr., Los Alamos, New Mexico) Top-five runner on the team as a true freshman...finished ninth at Idaho Jamboree, 41st at Sundodger Invite, 10th at Montana Invitational, 190th at Pre-Nationals, 71st at Pac-10 Championships, and 116th at NCAA West Regional meet.

Natalie Smith (Jr., Bellingham, Wash.) Competed in five meets for WSU...finished 10th at Idaho Jamboree, 83rd at Sundodger Invite, 68th at Pac-10 Championships and 115th at NCAA West Regional meet.

Katie Troy (Jr., Bellevue, Wash.) Competed in three races for WSU...finished 47th at Montana Invitational, 28th at Eastern Washington Invitational and 81st at Pac-10 Championships.

Lisa Waananen (RS-Fr., Maple Grove, Minn.) Did not compete for WSU in 2005.

DRAKE'S THOUGHTS ON THE COUGAR WOMEN: 'On the women's side I was very pleased with their season. Fifth place (at the Pac-10 Championships) was the same we finished last year, but the conference was stronger this year and more competitive. So we were pretty happy to get out of there with fifth place. Individually, Haley Paul was obviously the standout of the season, going to the NCAAs and being 14th and an All-American. We were really pleased with that, it kind of solidified her as being a big-time athlete. She has a couple more years, and this season will help her in track as she looks to go the NCAAs there as well. It will give her a little more confidence. Overall, we never really had a great day where we had five runners run well at once. That's got to happen, we have to get a little more depth in there or have five great performances in one day. Each athlete ran great at one point in the season, just not all together. I'm looking forward to having a strong group of seniors on the team in 2006 that I recruited and that have been in the program for a while.'

WSU MEN:The men's team season was highlighted by several standout performances at the Championship meets...Redshirt Junior Ryan Freimuth led the team to an eighth place team finish at the Pac-10 Championships...the WSU male harriers finished 11th at the NCAA West Regionals, led by Redshirt Freshman Drew Polley.

Sam Ahlbeck (Fr., Renton, Wash.) Emerged as a top 5-7 runner in first year of collegiate finish was 15th place at Idaho Jamboree...finished 46th at Sundodger Invite, 18th at Montana Invitational, 150th at Pre-Nationals, 74th at Pac-10s and 82nd at NCAA West Regional Meet.

Derry Betts (Fr., Edmonds, Wash.) Competed in four races for the Cougs...finished 10th at Idaho Jamboree, 69th at the Sundodger Invite, 16th at Montana Invitational, and 75th at Pac-10 Championships.

Evan Blanshan (So., Selah, Wash.) Did not compete for WSU in 2005.

Chris Concha (RS-So., Reno, Nev.) Best finish was 11th at Idaho Jamboree...finished 27th at the Sundodger Invite, 17th at Montana Invitational, 32nd at Pac-10 Championships and 63rd at NCAA West Regional meet.

Woody Favinger (RS-Fr., Bellingham, Wash.) Was men's front-runner and highest placer in nearly every meet this season... finished third at Idaho Jamboree, 14th at Sundodger Invite, best finish was second place at Montana Invitational...64th at Pre-Nationals, 21st at Pac-10 Championships, and 61st at NCAA West Regional meet.

Ryan Freimuth (RS-Jr., Wenatchee, Wash.) Was 38th at Sundodger Invite...finished fourth at Montana Invitational and 87th at Pre-Nationals...ran to team-best 16th place finish at Pac-10 meet in Tucson...placed 55th at NCAA West Regional Meet...named captain of the men's squad for 2006.

C.J. Godfrey (RS-Fr., Port Orchard, Wash.) Finished 24th at Montana Invitational...named to Pac-10 All-Academic Honorable Mention team.

Alex Grant (Jr., Bellingham, Wash.) Redshirt season...ran unattached at Idaho Jamboree, placing fifth.

Clay Hemlock (Sr., Ferndale, Wash.) Best finish in 2005 was 31st at Sundodger Invite.

Phil Hinrichs (RS-Fr., Pullman, Wash.) Did not compete for WSU in 2005.

Justin Ireland (Sr., Issaquah, Wash.) Was consistently among the top seven runners all finish was 12th place at Idaho Jamboree...finished 45th at Sundodger Invite, 15th at Montana Invitational, 65th at Pac-10 Championships and 81st at NCAA West Regional meet.

Andrew Jones (Jr., Gillette, Wyo.) Redshirt season...won Idaho Invitational as an unattached competitor...placed 11th at both Sundodger and Montana Invitational, also running unattached.

Dan Lucero (Fr., Port Angeles, Wash.) Finished 67th at Sundodger Invite and was 25th at Montana Invitational...came in season-best 14th place at Eastern Washington Invitational...placed 76th at Pac-10 Championships.

Matt Miller (Fr., Kennewick, Wash.) Did not compete for WSU in 2005.

Drew Polley (RS-Fr., Port Orchard, Wash.) Was one of the top three scorers for WSU in every race in finish was at Idaho Jamboree, where he placed fourth...finished 15th at Sundodger Invite and seventh at Montana Invitational...placed 86th at Pre-Nationals and 26th at Pac-10 Championships...led the team with a 48th place finish at NCAA West Regional meet.

Dominic Smargiassi (Fr., Auburn, Wash.) Redshirt season...finished 28th at Eastern Washington Invitational, running unattached.

Chris Williams (RS-So., Federal Way, Wash.). Best finish was sixth at Idaho Jamboree...placed 32nd at Sundodger Invite, 28th at Montana Invitational, 153rd at Pre-Nationals, 56th at Pac 10-Championships and 74th at NCAA West Regional meet.

DRAKE'S THOUGHTS ON THE COUGAR MEN:Head Coach Jason Drake emphasized the depth the team will have in 2006 as its strong point. 'One the men's side the Pac-10 Championships was kind of our focus this year, since it was a rebuilding season, considering the runners that we redshirted (Alex Grant and Andrew Jones). We didn't do as well as we would have liked, but we were really thrilled with our top four runners. Having Ryan Freimuth place 16th was phenomenal, and having Woody (Favinger) and Drew (Polley) place in the top thirty was great, and they each had a strong season. Chris Concha also had a great performance in 32nd. Throw in our recruits and our redshirts next year, and it looks like it will be a good season for the men's team.'

PAC-10 HONORS: Six women and five men on the WSU cross country teams were named to the 2005 Pacific-10 Conference Cross Country All-Academic teams.

Women's All-Academic Team

First team: Haley Paul, sophomore, Phoenix, Ariz., (3.89 GPA, undeclared).

Honorable mention: Collier Lawrence, sophomore, Reno, Nev., (3.03 GPA, undeclared), Meghan Leonard, redshirt freshman, Newberg, Ore. (3.34 GPA, undeclared), Kayle Peterson, junior, Port Orchard, Wash. (3.62 GPA, general studies), Kelly Ramirez, junior, Duvall, Wash. (3.51 GPA, biology), and Natalie Smith, junior, Bellingham, Wash. (3.72 GAP, psychology).

Men's All-Academic Team

First team: Ryan Freimuth (second consecutive selection), redshirt junior, Wenatchee, Wash. (3.88 GPA, accounting) and Drew Polley, freshman, Port Orchard, Wash. (3.88 GPA, undeclared).

Second team: Woody Favinger, redshirt freshman, Bellingham, Wash. (3.75 GPA, undeclared).

Honorable mention: C.J. Godfrey, redshirt freshman, Port Orchard, Wash. (3.71 GPA, undeclared) and Chris Williams, redshirt sophomore, Federal Way, Wash. (3.06 GPA, math).

WOMEN NEXT SEASON: The Cougars will have a strong core of senior leadership for the first time in Drake's coaching stint...overall team experience in the championship meets will greatly benefit the WSU harriers... junior to-be Haley Paul will be the team captain in 2006, as named by Head Coach Jason Drake... Drake says sophomore to-be Marisa Sandoval will be a great athlete, 'She got thrown in the fire pretty early as a freshman and just needs some time.' There will be a couple of recruits coming in on the women's team, and Drake anticipates they will add the depth the team needs. 'The recruits are ahead of a lot of our current athletes, as far as where they were as freshman, Drake said. 'For the women, it's still going be tough (in 2006) to be in the top five in the conference. Hopefully we close the gap a little bit on Oregon and Washington. For the first time I'll have some seniors on the women's team that I've recruited and that have been in the system. Stanford and Arizona State are always very, very good, but it would be great to make up ground on them as well.'

MEN NEXT SEASON: Drake looks forward to all the potential the men's squad will have in 2006. The team will welcome back redshirt seniors to-be Alex Grant and Andrew Jones as they return to competition...Woody Favinger and Drew Polley, two of the men's front-runners, still have three years of competition and look to improve on a strong 2005 season...senior to-be Ryan Friemuth is the team captain for 2006, as named by Head Coach Jason Drake. 'Our 2005 redshirts, Jones and Grant, should be especially helpful next year,' Drake said. 'A couple freshman that redshirted, as well as our recruits, will be good additions as well. We should be really strong, the best team we've had in a long time, with a lot of depth as well.'

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