The WSU men’s and women’s cross country teams look to bounce back after a mediocre finish in their last race at the Pac-12 Championships.
Both teams will travel to Stanford to race in the NCAA West Regionals cross country meet Saturday. The 27 men’s teams from the West Region will compete in Saturday’s 10,000 meter race while 34 teams on the women’s side will compete in a 6,000 meter race at the Stanford Golf Course.
Both teams are looking to bounce back after a disappointing effort in Arizona at the Pac-12 Championships as both teams hope to begin a strong final push to the season. The Cougar men are currently ranked seventh in the West Region while the women are unranked going into Saturday’s meet.
The best finish at the NCAA West Regionals in recent history for the men was in 1998, when they took third place. The highest finish for the women in recent history for the women was a sixth place finish in 2007. Both teams hope to surpass those finishes Saturday.
Cougar Head Coach, Pete Julian says this race will be a critical one for the men in deciding their eligibility in reaching the NCAA Championships. The men will be running with a full squad Saturday, and hope to fair well against the other teams in the West Region.
“On the men’s side, we feel we need to run well for us to have a chance to go to the NCAA's (Championships),” Julian said. “I’m not sure what place that is, but we feel like if we execute our race plan and the guys run to their capabilities, we have got a solid shot at being in the conversation when the (at-large) teams are announced next Monday.”
Julian also expects a strong effort against fellow Conference rivals including WSU’s cross-state rival, the University of Washington Huskies.
“We beat UW by just a few points last week, so they are certainly smelling blood in the water,” Julian said. “We have certainly got our hands full, but I’m confident that if the men run strong we should be okay.”
The Cougar women will be racing at less than full strength once again this weekend, as Ruby Roberts, their top performer on the season, will not compete due to injury. Julian expects Saturday’s race to be a tough task for an understaffed women’s squad.
Though Julian does not expect the youthful women’s team to compete for the top spot Saturday, he does think they have a good chance at placing in the upper half of the West Region.
“I think we are a year away from where we want to be going into this week. The women will get some good experience there, and we feel good about placing in the top 15,” Julian said.
Results from Saturday’s race will be available on the official WSU Athletic website, wsucougars.com, when available post-race.