The WSU Cougar cross-country teams look to build upon strong seasons thus far as they get set for their final race before the Pac-12 Conference Championships.
After a successful trip to Notre Dame, the No. 20 men along with the highly-talented women travel to Spokane for the third time this season to race in the Inland Northwest Classic Friday at Spokane Falls Community College.
Head Coach Pete Julian indicated that all athletes on both men’s and women’s teams will run in the upcoming race in order to stay sharp before the Conference Championships in Arizona at the end of the month.
“(This will be a) tune-up, really. It just gives us another opportunity to race and get a little bit closer to our competitive edge,” Julian said. “It will be a pretty low-key regional meet.”
The Cougars are running for the first time since a bittersweet outing at Notre Dame two weeks ago. While the men look to build off the successful meet and their highest national ranking since 1997, the Cougar women are determined to prove they are better than what their 17th place finish indicated.
“I think the women now are just so motivated and so fired up to correct those wrongs,” Julian said. “They have a bit of a chip on their shoulder right now, and they are quite motivated to make things right.”
Friday’s race will feature a variety of regional teams, including Gonzaga, Central Washington, Eastern Washington and Montana. While these teams present good competition, Julian still expects a win on Friday.
“There are a couple pretty solid teams there, but we have two very, very strong teams so if we are going to run at full strength, I wouldn't perceive that we should get beat,” Julian said. “But that's the nature of why we race, because it's possible.”
Julian also said that in the past the team has traveled to a big meet this weekend. Instead, he feels the team is better off without the travel and emotional toll it presents. The coach wants his runners fresh and rested as they look ahead to the Conference Championships.
“We are just going to try to change things a little bit this year – stay home and we will be back in time to get a good night’s sleep and get a nice run in the morning and watch a little football on Saturday,” he said.
Results from Friday’s race will be available post-race on the official WSU Athletic website wsucougars.com.