Miles ahead of the rest
Driving 130 miles west from Pullman would put oneself just outside Royal City; 130 miles east would put one in Montana. The distance is sizable – and equal to sophomore cross country runner Woody Favinger's weekly training regimen.
Favinger, who graduated from Sehome High School in Bellingham, has been running his entire life.
"I have a bunch of runners in my family,\" Favinger said. \"My mom has three older brothers, and just everyone in my family runs and so I always ran just for fun.\"
Although Favinger always ran for enjoyment, he never competed until high school.
"My freshman year was the first time I actually did cross country,\" he said. \"My high school coach, Al Reimer, was a huge influence. After I met with him ... I learned a lot about running and I definitely improved a lot."
Since then, running has developed into a major part of Favinger's life.
"It\'s more than just a pastime,\" he said. \"It's my main focus in just about everything.\"
This past summer, Favinger spent his days in Bellingham and in the mountains running in preparation for the upcoming season and for the moments that make the training worth the work.
\"It\'s not always fun to go out and run 15, 20 miles,\" he said. \"But it's all worth it when you have that really good race and the feeling when you cross the finish line knowing how hard you worked. For those kind of moments is why I do it."
Favinger trains so vigorously because of his quest to improve.
"In other sports, you can practice, you can try to shoot baskets better. But running, you just run and you run a lot,\" he said. \"I like to see how hard I can push myself to get as good as I can be.\"
While some may consider Favinger's training extreme, it seems to be working. Last season, he was the WSU men\'s cross country team\'s top scorer.
"Last cross country season was probably his breakout year,\" head coach Jason Drake said. \"He was No. 21 at the Pac-10 championships as a redshirt freshman. He had a couple good races before, but definitely there in the Pac-10s."
Favinger is looking to not only match the results of last year, but to surpass them and lead the team to a berth in the NCAA championships.
"We have a really solid group of guys,\" Favinger said. \"Our goal is definitely to make nationals. That is a very big goal and it is not going to be easy, but it is important to have these difficult goals.\"
Favinger wants to do all he can to make that happen. His goal is to be in the top 20 at Pac-10s. However, Drake has bigger plans for Favinger.
"He has been training phenomenally all summer; he is in really good shape right now,\" Drake said. \"I would hope that he is looking to be around 10th at the conference Pac-10.\"
Favinger will lead the cross country team at its first meet of the season at the Idaho Jamboree on Sept. 1 in Moscow.