XC hopes to spook competition at Pac-12 Championships

CASIE MOE | Evergreen cross-country reporter

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Right before Halloween, the Washington State cross-country teams will settle on the starting line in a familiar fall setting.

Hosting the Pac-12 Conference Championship today, the Cougars will stomp the grounds at the Colfax Golf Club. They know the twists, turns and dips of the course. More than that, they know what they need to do to compete.

“We’ve figured we’ve probably done maybe 150 miles worth of running on that course,” WSU Director of and Cross-Country and Track and Field Wayne Phipps said. “We have a little bit of a race strategy going in and it’s really more of a reminder through certain checkpoints in the race, knowing where they are in the race, knowing when they need to make a move and things like that.”

The team has spent its Tuesday morning practices at that same golf course every week since this season’s opening meet. Sophomore Sam Levora said the repetition will add to the home advantage for the men’s team.

“Just fall in behind guys that you practice every day with in practice,” Levora said. “Because if you do that and you can run great in practice and run great with your teammates, you can run great in a race.”

The men’s side will face stiff competition from last year’s Pac-12 Champions the Colorado Buffaloes.

Representing the Cougars will be Levora, sophomore Michael Williams and junior John Whelan. The young team also will feature freshmen Chandler Teigen, Nathan Wadhwani, Kyler Little, Reid Muller, Paul Ryan, Nathan Tadesse and Jake Finney.

They will be racing against schools that have won numerous national titles, like Oregon State, which has won six – tops in the Pac-12.

For the women, the 6,000m course will include three loops and the men will take on four loops for their 8,000m.

“Loops aren’t so bad when you get excited enough that you don’t even notice that you’ve done the same thing four times,” Teigen said.

Although, as Teigen pointed out, since the course does go over the same spots several times, it could appear like it is getting harder.

At the same time, each loop allows for a runner to gauge their pace and know when to up their game. For senior CharLee Linton, that point comes around the four kilometer mark when she knows there is only one loop left.

“It’s a great feeling when you pass someone and your teammate is right next to you, passing that person also,” Linton said.

For the women’s team, each person has at least one teammate to run with. In addition to facing Colorado and Oregon State, the women will race Stanford and Arizona as well.

The Cougars are racing are sophomore Devon Bortfeld and Linton along with their senior teammates Emily Dwyer and Amanda Henderson. Juniors Morgan Willson, Steffie Pavey and Alexys Garcia will also be racing alongside freshmen Katherine Dittman, Anisa Allaet and Josie Brown.

The men’s race will begin today at 10:35 a.m. The women follow at 11:35 a.m. Live results will be posted at http://rtspt.com/events/pac12/xc2015/.