Challenges Ahead for Cougar Cross Country at Pre-Nationals Meet

Oct. 9, 2006

THIS WEEK: The Cougar cross country teams will compete at the Pre-Nationals meet in Terre Haute, Ind. Saturday, while a second group of Cougars running unattached will travel to Cheney, Wash., to compete in the EWU Invitational.

THE PRE-NATIONALS: The meet takes place at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind...both the men's and women's races will be divided into two seeded heats determined by the NCAA Cross Country Sub-Committee...the Blue and White heat races will have the top-ranked programs divided equally among them to ensure top competition in each race...the Washington State women's team will be among 94 teams expected to compete in the event with 24 of the top 30 teams in the country represented, including Pac-10 rivals Stanford (No. 1), Washington (No. 14) and Arizona State (No. 16)...the Cougar men will face a field of 89 expected teams populated with 23 of the top 30 teams in the nation, including Pac-10 members Stanford (No. 3), Arizona (No. 7) and Arizona State (No. 20)...the women's 6,000m heats are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and 11:35 a.m. ET with the men's 8,000m heats to follow at 12:10 p.m. and 12:50 p.m. ET...for more information and results, visit

THE EWU INVITATIONAL: The Eastern Washington Invitational is a small format meet ... teams from Washington, Montana and Canada are set to compete, including Gonzaga University, Univesity of Calgary and Black Feet Community College ...the event takes place on the grass athletic fields at the university with the women's 5,000m race beginning at 10 a.m. and the men's 8,000m race scheduled for 10:30 a.m....additional information can be found at the EWU website,

WSU WOMEN: Washington State will be represented by nine runners at the Pre-Nationals meet led by junior Haley Paul, last year's top Cougar finisher who placed 21st in the women's blue race...juniors Isley Gonzalez and Collier Lawrence will also make the trip to Indiana along with seniors Kayle Peterson, Kelly Ramirez and sophomore Meghan Leonard...redshirt freshman Sara Trané and freshmen Chelsea VanDeBrake and Lisa Egami round out the Cougar Pre-National competitors...a team also heads to Cheney, Wash., for the EWU Invitational but will be running unattached.

OUTLOOK: 'The Pre-National race is a huge opportunity to see where the team stands, and size up against other teams in preparation for the Pac-10 and NCAA Regional meets coming up,' said WSU Head Coach Jason Drake. 'I think the women can do very well. We haven't ever run well as a team but that's our hope to finally break that curse we've had the last couple of seasons. I would like to see Haley improve on her finish from last year as well.'

WSU MEN: Sophomore Woody Favinger will lead a team of nine Cougars into the Pre-Nationals meet...juniors Alex Grant and Andrew Jones make their third appearances at the Pre-Nationals meet for the Cougars...juniors Chris Williams, Chris Concha and sophomore Evan Blanshan will also run this weekend...redshirt freshman Dominic Smargiassi and freshman Dan Geib round out the Cougar Pre-National competitors...sophomore Drew Polley is still questionable to run this weekend due to a knee injury...a team of unattached runners will also travel to Cheney, Wash., for the EWU Invitational.

OUTLOOK: 'I think Grant, Jones and Favinger should all be able to compete this year. All the guys look better than they did a year ago,' said Drake. 'Polley is still day-to-day and we will decide on him Friday. If needed, Concha might have to step up and fill that void.'

LAST YEAR AT THE PRE-NATIONALS: At the 2005 meet, the WSU men placed 20th in the White section race, also held at Terre Haute...Woody Favinger and Drew Polley ran to 64th and 86th place finishes the women's Blue race, the Cougars finished 22nd and were led by Haley Paul (21st place) and Meghan Leonard (100th place).

REGIONAL RANKINGS: In the Oct. 9, 2006 USTFCCCA Division I West Region polls the men's team ranks 11th and the women's team ranks fifth.

NEXT COMPETITION: WSU will have a week off before traveling to Palo-Alto, Calif. to compete in the Pac-10 Championships Oct. 28.

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