Cross Country Season Begins with NW Clash Race

Sept. 4, 2008

Clash of the Inland Northwest Meet, Mead, Washington
Saturday, September 6, 200810 a.m. Women's 4000m race 10:30 a.m. Men's 6000m race

THIS WEEK: The Washington State University men's and women's cross country teams begin the season Saturday at the Clash of the Inland Northwest Meet, featuring teams from University of Idaho, Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga...teams will compete at a 2k course at Mead High in north Spokane with the women running two loops of the course and the men racing three loops...Eastern Washington is the host school for the meet...results will also be available on the official WSU Athletics website,

LEADING THE WAY: Fifth-year head coach Jason Drake, in his eighth season as the mentor for Washington State cross country, has full rosters with 21 men and 13 women...Drake returns the most experienced teams to date...volunteer assistant coach Kyle Chandler...student coach Collier Lawrence.


WSU Women:Amanda AndrewsSarah DunnLisa EgamiEmily FarrarMichelly FoleyAnna LaymanMarisa SandovalStephanie SipesMietra SmollackSara TranéChelsea VanDeBrakeAshley Wall

WSU Men:Sam AhlbeckEvan BlanshanLuke LemenagerPeter MillerDrew PolleyDominic SmargiassiJeremy Swenson


2008 Cougar Men's Cross Country Continues to Rise

The Washington State University men's cross country team looks to continue the success of the past couple of seasons and maintain the high quality of competitiveness, with a core group of upperclassmen leading the way as well as some new incoming talent.

Led by senior and team captain Drew Polley (Port Orchard, Wash.), juniors Sam Ahlbeck (Renton, Wash.), Dominic Smargiassi (Auburn, Wash.) and Dan Gieb (Reno, Nev.), join Polley to provide the leadership and experience to the squad. All four were consistent placers as they finished as top performers on the team last year and have experience in the big races.

'This is one of the best teams that we have ever had since I have been here,' fifth-year Cougar Head Coach Jason Drake said. 'The strides they made during the track season were great. When you look at Sam, Dominic, Dan and Drew, had the best track seasons we have ever had guys have. So that confidence they have gained will hopefully transfer over to cross country this fall.'

Three other runners who will be expected to be major contributors throughout the season are Peter Miller (Spokane, Wash.), Jeremy Swenson (Shoreline, Wash.) and Spokane Community College transfer Mark Moeller (Spokane, Wash.) With a couple years of collegiate running under their belts, these three are expected to complete the line-up for the team scoring.

Joining the WSU squad this year are a couple of freshmen who could contribute right away. Justin England (Federal Way, Wash.) and Jono Lafler (Maple Valley, Wash.) bring talent to the team that could continue the rise of the program over the past few seasons.

'This is probably one of the best freshmen classes that we have ever had here,' Drake said. 'With a lot of these walk-on guys and Jono Lafler and Justin England are both looking really good and had great summers.'

The 2008 team will be comprised of a total of 21 student athletes and with a strong group of core runners, the Cougar squad looks to continue its push for improvement. After they finished last season competing at the NCAA West Regional, the Cougars know what they need to do to improve and have spent the summer working hard for the upcoming season.

'I think they are as good as they have been these last couple of years,' Drake said. 'But they still have to do it and they have not done it yet in cross country.'

Cougar Women's Cross Country Aiming for Success

Washington State University women's cross country team is ready for the younger runners to step up and perform at the high levels that they are capable of. After losing some of their top runners from last season's squad and not having one senior on the team this year,

'The women's team lost four of the top five runners from last year,' fifth year Cougar Head Coach Jason Drake said. 'So it's a rebuilding year for the women.'

The younger runners will look to junior and team captain Sara Trane (Pixbo, Sweden), as well as juniors, Lisa Egami (Coquitlam, British Columbia), Chelsea VanDeBrake (Yakima, Wash.), Marisa Sandoval (Los Alamos, New Mexico) and sophomore Amanda Andrews (Gig Harbor, Wash.), to provide leadership and the experience needed to show the younger runners the ropes.

Even though the whole team is young, the upperclassmen have the experience needed to lead this team to the next level of competition.

'They do have varsity experience,' Drake said. 'It's just more now, they have to take the lead, they can't follow anyone anymore, they have to take the lead.'

With a league as tough as the Pacific 10 Conference has proven to be, it is going to take depth in order for the Cougars to continue their improvement from the last season.

'The Pac-10 is as tough as ever on both sides,' Drake said. 'The top four women's teams in the conference last year are probably in the top five teams in America this year.'

With that type of competition the squad will look to three freshmen to be an integral part of this year's line-up. Mietra Smollack (Oak Harbor, Wash.), Michelly Foley (Prineville, Ore.) and Emily Farrar (Bainbridge, Wash.), will have some large shoes to fill and are expected to continue building this team for years to come.

With the young talent the Cougar women bring to the table and the talent of the upperclassmen, WSU is poised to have a strong 2008 season.

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