Track & Field Signs Six Highly-Talented Prep Athletes

March 4, 2009

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Six outstanding high school track and field athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to compete for Washington State University starting in the fall of 2009, Cougar Head Coach Rick Sloan announced Wednesday.

Leading the incoming freshmen are state distance standouts Andrew Kimpel from Spokane, Wash., and Alyssa Andrews, from Gig Harbor, Wash. Brett Blanshan, a sprinter from Selah, Wash., will be competing on the men's team while the women's team will add high jumpers Holly Parent, from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and Christine Rice, from Ridgefield, Wash., and distance runner Caroline Austin, a distance runner from Chehalis, Wash.

Kimpel is the leading runner for the highly acclaimed North Central High, the 2008 Nike Cross Country Team National Champions and winners of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Washington 3A Cross Country Championships, and 2008 Track & Field boys' team champs. For the past two seasons, Kimpel was the runner-up at the state 3A cross country championships, and finished 10th at the Nike national meet as a senior. He was the 2008 Nike BorderClash 10 Meet (Washington versus Oregon) champion as Washington boys swept the top 14 spots. A preseason All-America selection by 'The Harrier Magazine,' Kimpel was selected the 2008 Washington Gatorade Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year. He is a Washington Principal Scholar with a 3.83 grade point average and plans to study business at WSU.

'(WSU Cross Country Head Coach) Jason Drake has said that Andrew Kimpel is arguably the best prep distance runner on the West Coast,' Sloan said. 'He will be a welcome addition to our cross country and track and field teams. Andy is going to be a very important cog in our cross country wheel and certainly on the track, as well.'

Andrews is a senior at Gig Harbor High and considered the top returning girls' prep distance runner in the state. Winner of the 4A state 2008 cross country title, Andrews' time of 18-minutes flat is the third-best time in state history. She was the top Washington placer, at fifth, in the 2008 Nike BorderClash 10 Meet and was named the 2008 Washington Gatorade Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year. Last fall Andrews also earned ESPN Regional and National High School Athlete of the Week recognition. She is also an elite level soccer player on the Washington Premier FC team. Andrews' parents, David and Jeanna, are WSU graduates.

'Alyssa was Coach Drake's number-one women's recruit for this year,' Sloan said. 'She is a strong runner who has that range to move into some different events for us. We are very, very happy that Alyssa chose Washington State and she is going to be a great addition to our program.'

Blanshan, from Selah High, was runner-up in the 200m dash at the 2008 state 2A championships with a time of 21.65 and had the top time in the state in the 100m with a school-record time of 10.36, but false-started at state meet. He is a two-time state 2A long jump champion, setting the state meet and school record in 2008 with a leap of 23-feet, 2 3/4 inches. Blanshan's older brother, Evan, is a member of the Cougs' cross country and track and field teams.

'Brett Blanshan is the top returning prep sprinter in the state of Washington and probably in the Northwest,' Sloan said. 'He is someone who is going to fit well into the way we develop our sprinters. He is very strong and will be a good sprinter indoors and outdoors. Brett is someone we can count on in both the 100m and 200m, and certainly in the short relay as well.'

Parent is in her final year at Reynolds Secondary School and has extensive experience as an international competitor. Parent tied the B.C. provincial and national youth high jump records by clearing 5-feet, 10 3/4 inches (1.80m). As a member of the Canadian Junior National Team, Parent high jumped 5-8 1/2 (1.74m) at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Poland and took fourth place in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune, India. She competes for the Victoria Track & Field Club where she was the top juvenile female athlete for 2008 and was one of three finalists for the British Columbia province top youth female award. Parent also has experience as a multi-events competitor and placed fourth in the heptathlon at the 2007 Canadian Junior Games, and won the gold medal in the pentathlon at the 2006 B.C. Summer Games. Parent has earned numerous academic excellence honors.

'Having a jumper of Holly Parent's capabilities and talent is really going to help us out at a Pac-10 and NCAA levels, especially after NCAA champion Ebba Jungmark returned to Sweden. We're excited about Holly coming in and contributing both indoors and outdoors in the high jump,' Sloan said.

Rice is a senior at Mountain View HS and was the 2008 state 4A high jump runner-up on misses after clearing the meet's top height 5-8 (1.73m). As a junior, Rice won the district meet after clearing 5-6, and finished fourth at the 2007 state 4A meet after high jumping 5-4. She attended WSU summer track camps.

'Christine Rice has a great high jumper's body and is someone who we think will develop and become an outstanding jumper under Coach Matt McGee's guidance here at Washington State,' Sloan said. 'We're starting to build a high jump dynasty at Washington State, so it is exciting for us to look toward scoring well in the event at the championships.'

Austin is a multi-sport athlete at W.F. West High, who has gained recognition in track and field as well as cross country. She finished third at the 2008 state 2A cross country meet after winning the Evergreen League girls' individual title and leading her team to the girls' championship. As a junior, Austin led the cross country team to a league title and state fourth place finish. At the 2008 2A state track championships, she placed fourth in the 1600m and third in the 800m and ran on two relays. Austin can trace 34 relatives who have attended Washington State University including former Cougar tennis coach Rex Davis and his wife, Alice Riley Davis.

'Caroline Austin is a former summer camper with us and we recognized her talent and realized she would be a great addition to our team.' Sloan said. 'She is primarily a middle distance runner, but could also compete in the steeplechase because she is strong and very athletic. Caroline is somebody we will be able to use in a variety of different ways, as well as cross country. She will be a great addition to the Cougar program.'

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