Thursday, May 3, 2018

Gonzaga pulls off biggest recruiting coup with signing of HS All-American James Mwaura...

SPOKANE—Head track and cross country coach Pat Tyson, already a coaching legend in the state of Washington, may have pulled off one of the biggest recruiting coups in his nine years of coaching at Gonzaga.

The school announced that Lincoln High School/Tacoma senior James Mwaura (above/photo courtesy Gonzaga University) signed a national letter of intent to attend the school starting this fall.

"Wow we got a good one in James Mwaura," Tyson said. "This kid is the real deal! He was highly recruited by top-end Div. 1 schools and he picked Gonzaga! Many coaches consider James one of the top prospects in the country! He will elevate the men's and women's programs at Gonzaga like no other recruit before him. Our runners are incredibly excited about James being a part of our program.”

After placing eighth at the Class 3A state cross country championships in his sophomore season, Mwaura cruised to first place finishes in his junior and senior seasons. He ran the third-fastest time ever at the state meet this past fall in Pasco.

"I'm blessed to have the opportunity to continue my education and athletic career at Gonzaga," Mwaura said. "After meeting Tyson and my future teammates, I knew it was the place for me. Coach Tyson was the first person to recruit me, which meant he saw the potential in me before anybody else did. He's been very patient and supportive of me and my family since the beginning. I can't wait to rep the Zags on the cross country courses and track!"

On the track under Lincoln High head coach Andrew Fuller, Mwaura is one of three athletes in the nation that have ran two sub-nine minute 3,200-meter efforts in 2018. His 3,200-meter personal record is 8:51.62, while his 1,600-meter PR is 4:11.31 and he has run 14:48.30 in the 5,000 meters.

Not so coincidentally, Tyson is a 1968 graduate of Lincoln HS.

Mwaura won the 3,200-meter state title last season, after placing second in 2016. He was third in the 1,600 meters in 2017, and fourth in his sophomore season.

Mwaura (pronounced em-wara) was born in Kenya, but his family moved to Tacoma when he and his younger sister, Patience, were toddlers.

Gonzaga's release is available here.

At the Payton Jordan Invitational Thursday night at Cobb Track & Angell Field on the campus of Stanford University, Stanford alum Jessica Tonn of the Brooks Beasts won the women’s 10000 meters.

Tonn ran 31:54.83, the fastest time by an American so far this season, as she tucked in behind Sarah Pagano of the Boston AA and Canada’s Rachel Cliff, running a 68.6 final lap to take the win, with Pagano second at 31:56.43, and Cliff third at 31:56.86.

In the women’s 5000, Washington alum Katie Mackey of the Beasts ran 15:18.88 to take fifth, as Meraf Bahta of Sweden won in 15:15.33.

Washington’s Amy-Eloise Neale broke the UW school record in 13th place, running 15:24.16, crushing Megan Goethals’ old SR of 15:3.63 set in 2013.

Washington alum Mel Lawrence was 19th in 15:46.01, while another UW alum, Eleanor Fulton, ran 16:00.68 in another section.

Garrett Heath of the Beasts was fourth in the men’s 10000 in his track debut over the distance, as the Stanford alum ran 27:56.11.

In the men’s 800, Brannon Kidder was second in 1:47.47.  In the men’s 1500, world indoor championships silver medalist Drew Windle was fourth in his section, running 3:43.64.

In section 2 of the women’s 1500, Savannah Colón of the Beasts was third in 4:19.94, while teammate and UW alum Baylee Mires was tenth in 4:25.12.

In the men’s 5000, Henry Wynne of the Beasts was 16th in 13:30.43, while Izaic Yorks was 24th in 13:53.48.

Complete results of the Payton Jordan Invitational are available here.

Friday, the penultimate meet of the 99 year old Hayward Field will be contested, as the Oregon Twilight meet will be run.

Oregon alums Devon Allen (100/110 HH), Marcus Chambers (200), and Michael Berry (400) are among the bevy of former Ducks with Washington ties who will run Friday.

Additionally, three Gonzaga runners—Scott Kopczynski, Brandon Pollard and Mason Villarma—are entered in the men’s 1500, as they look for qualifying marks to get into the NCAA West Regionals in Sacramento later this month, as Gonzaga doesn’t have a conference championship meet to run next weekend (the West Coast Conference doesn’t sponsor outdoor track).

The start list for Friday night’s Oregon Twilight is available here.

NOTE: The sports information office at Gonzaga University, Stanford University, the University of Oregon contributed to this report.

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