The Washington State University men’s cross country team finished a successful season with a 21st place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
The Cougar men reached their highest finish since 1998 on a cool, misty afternoon Monday, Nov. 21, at the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
Head Coach Pete Julian said his team ran their hearts out to reach 21st place out of 31 invited teams.
“Only 31 teams advance to the championships unlike other sports that take 64 teams,” Julian said. “These are the very best teams and the very best runners in the country and really the world.”
Once again, junior Andrew Kimpel led the way for the WSU men, covering the 10,000m course with the 59th best overall time out of the 252-man field with a time of 30 minutes, 27.9 seconds. Other WSU scoring included senior Jono Lafler, who finished 79th (30:38.6), senior Justin England, who finished 162nd (31:20.2), sophomore Andrew Gonzales, who finished 164th (31:22.1), and redshirt freshman Todd Wakefield, who finished 186th (31:34.8).
Wisconsin took first place and the men’s title in Monday’s race. The strength of the Pac-12 was present as both Colorado and Stanford also finished in the top five, finishing third and fifth respectively.
“These guys ran their absolute hearts out. I am so proud of them,” Julian said. “We could have had a great day and yet finish where we were ranked (27th nationally) coming in.”
The Cougars would not settle for 27th place. The group outperformed expectations once again, capping off a successful season. The race was a fitting end to a season marked by resilience and fortitude. Monday was a prime example of the team’s vigor.
“All season these guys have kept on plugging. They were consistent and raced as hard as they could every time they raced,” Julian said. “This team has never been here and every guy came off the course saying this was the hardest they have ever run.”
That resilient nature shined through after the race as Julian already had his sights on the coming season, calling the race a jumping off point for next year.
“This is a team that is moving up, and we will be better next year,” Julian said.