|Singlet of the Palouse Pirates, who will|
compete at the USA Track & Field
National Club Cross Country Champs
(photo courtesy Palouse Pirates)
The state of Washington will have a significant presence in Saturday's USA Track & Field National Club Cross Country Championships in Bend, Oregon, led by defending champions Jake Riley and Mattie Suver, along with 2011 women's champion Brie Felnagle.
One of the teams from Washington looking to make their presence known at the club championships is the newly-formed Palouse Pirates squad from the east side of the state, and more specifically, Pullman.
Washington State University football coach Mike Leach, who has an obsession for pirates, and the pirate culture, was the inspiration for the Palouse Pirates.
Consistent with that inspiration is the fact that all of the members of the Pirates have ties to Washington State University, as three members of the team--David Hickerson, Justin Englund, and Jono Lafler are Cougar grads, while two others--Andrew Kimpel and Drew Jordan, currently compete at Wazoo.
In true pirate tradition, the team will race in Bend in their distinctive white, low-tech cotton singlets with a skull and crossbones spray painted, in marked contrast to the polyester, Dri-Fit tops many teams will sport at the club championships.
The idea of competing at the club nationals began with Kimpel, who was out of cross country eligibility this fall, looking for meets to run in. The older members of the Pirates thought that it would be fun to make their own team, consisting of Cougar alums, rather than join an established track club.
Due to the fact that Kimpel and Jordan both have eligibility left at Washington State, the team members are self-funding their trip to Bend to compete in the club nationals.
When asked if the Palouse Pirates could be expanded in the future, Jordan said, "If it could grow into something more and be a sustainable way for some alumni to compete competitively for a couple years after college--absolutely we would do anything to make that happen. The running and athletic culture in Eastern Washington is pretty amazing. The idea of pairing with some businesses is not far-fetched at all."