WSU runners look toward Sundodger Invite


Runners look toward Sundodger Invite


Last week's cross country meet in Idaho was a team time trial to help returnees and new team members get their feet wet.
The Sundodger Invitational hosted by the University of Washington in Seattle on Sept. 16 is supposed to serve the same purpose.

"The Sundodger will be an indicator and we will run hard," WSU head coach Jason Drake said. "The Sundodger will determine who will redshirt and who will run."

The men's and women's teams beat Gonzaga and the University of Idaho last weekend, with several pleasant surprises.

True freshman Dan Geib won the men's event in his first competition as a Cougar at the Idaho Jamboree.

"[Dan's] been looking really good in practice," Drake said. "He's chomping at the bit and proving he'll be a top-seven runner for us. He's definitely capable."

Drake also lauded the efforts of true freshman Chelsea VanDeBrake, who finished second. Drake expects her to be a contributor this season for the women.

"The hope was to have one or two freshmen who would be capable," Drake said. "They will compete and be contributors."

Even with the pleasant surprises, Drake, like most coaches, wasn't pleased with everything he saw.

"I would like to have a few more run together," Drake said. "If we can tighten up our [No.] 6, 7 and 8 runners, we can do better. They were a little tired, but all the training in the world doesn't matter if you don't compete well."

Meghan Leonard, a redshirt sophomore and last weekend's No. 4 finisher, agreed that fatigue was a factor.

"We ran as a group," she said. "A few fell off a little, but it was hot and we had a long week of training."

Junior Haley Paul, a 2005 All-American runner, finished sixth at the Jamboree. Though she finished behind four teammates, Paul is showing positive signs after struggling with fatigue and injury during last year's outdoor track season, Drake said.

"Haley looks great," he said. "She was substantially slower than last year when she really went for it, but it was really easy for her. She'll get worked in Seattle."

Drake eased up a bit on the training after last weekend, giving both teams this weekend off. He said that after the Sundodger, the teams will begin a program in which the teams run hard one week and take it easy the week before a meet.

Even though the Sundodger Invitation will aid Drake in

determining who his runners will be, the match-up with the Huskies will add a competitive edge to the meet.

"Any time you line up against the Huskies, you run hard," Drake said.

Leonard hopes to begin the race as a team and then have the runners go at their own pace.

"I think it's going to be more together, and then as you feel better, break off," she said. "I would hope to start together as a group for the first mile or mile-and-a-half. I think that's the plan."


n Redshirt senior Clay Hemlock has been nursing an Achilles tendon injury and did not compete last week. Drake said Hemlock has been jogging and is still questionable for the Sundodger Invitational.

n Leonard is getting back in shape after taking two months off this summer to rehab a meniscus-tear knee injury.

n The Sundodger Invitational will feature women's Big-10-power Michigan, which finished sixth as a team at last year's national championships.

n WSU freshman Luke Lemenager finished 12th in his first meet as a Cougar. WSU freshmen Stephanie Sipes and Lisa Egami finished No. 14 and No. 16, respectively, in their Cougar debuts.