Friday, September 5, 2008

Cross country season kicks off for Eastern, WSU, Gonzaga Saturday...

The Eastern Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams will begin their seasons this Saturday (Sept. 6) when the Eagles host the Clash of the Inland Northwest in Spokane, Wash.

The event will take place at Mead High School with EWU competing against Gonzaga, Idaho and Washington State. The women’s race starts at 10 a.m. Pacific time and the men’s race begins at 10:30 a.m.

In this year’s Big Sky Conference preseason polls recently released, Eastern’s women’s team ranked fifth and the men’s team was tied for fifth place with Sacramento State. Northern Arizona’s team was picked to sweep both men’s and women’s titles.

Eastern returns several key performers from last year’s teams. The men’s roster includes seven returning runners and five newcomers, while the women have five returning and eight newcomers, according to coach Chris Zeller. The women had a best-ever placing of fourth in the Big Sky in 2007 while the men were seventh.

For Washington State, fifth-year head coach Jason Drake, in his eighth season as the mentor for Cougar cross country, has full rosters with 21 men and 13 women. Drake returns the most experienced teams to date.

At Gonzaga University, Saturday's meet begins the Pat Tyson era, as the long-time Mead HS coach attempts to kick-start a largely dormant and undistinguished Bulldog program in the West Coast Conference, a conference that's been dominated by the University of Portland.

Eastern's release can be read here, while Washington State's release can be read here.

On the west side, Western Washington opens in Bellingham at the Whatcom CC Orca Invitational at Lake Padden, while Seattle Pacific travels to Lacey for the Saint Martin's Invitational.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Washington State, Gonzaga and Eastern Washington contributed to this report. will have a team-by-team preview of the state's Division I schools beginning September 8th.

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