Junior Drake DaPonte exits race, leaving men unable to place
The Eastern Washington men's and women's cross country teams traveled to Seattle, Wash., for the annual Sundodger Invitational on Saturday (Sept. 17), but only the women placed as the men's team suffered an injury which put them under the minimum number of runners needed to score.
Junior Drake DaPonte had to pull out between the second and third mile of the race due to what head coach Chris Zeller believes could be a strained calf muscle. DaPonte, a transfer from Washington State, sat out most of last season as well due to ineligibility, so his frustration levels are getting high considering he wants to run.
"Drake made the right decision to drop out," said Zeller. "To push through the injury at this point would only make it worse. He's definitely frustrated. But later on in the season he has his eyes on the prize to get healthy and win conference. He knows he can be a big contributor."
The women placed fifth out of seven teams. Whitworth transfer Tonya Turner ran her first race wearing the red and white and impressed Zeller with an outstanding performance. She finished seventh overall.
"Tonya has been nursing an injury all summer and hasn't done much with workouts," said Zeller. "It was great to see her run that well. It lets me know she has all the tools a runner needs. And we may have found our front runner for the season."
Two weeks ago, the men's team failed to stick to their game plan of running as a pack, which frustrated Zeller. In Seattle the men stuck with the game plan and it showed in their results. Senior Bowe Ebding, senior Graham Vaux and sophomore Simon Sorenson finished 16th, 17th and 21st respectively. Nathan Fall, a newcomer to the team, finished 62nd.
"The men worked really well together today," said Zeller. 'Those three, I think, can get confidence through out the race knowing the others are right there with them. It gives them momentum."
Senior Stephanie Dye placed 33rd, the same as last year's Sundodger. Sophomores Micaela Rasmussen and Angelica Rodriguez were both highly praised by Zeller.
"Angelica started way back," said Zeller. "She rolled an ankle a week and a half ago, so she's was being cautious. She had a great race, so down the road when she isn't playing it safe she'll finish even higher.
Micaela has improved a lot from a year ago. She works had a puts in a lot of miles. She's a very dependable and consistent runner."
Eastern returns home next Saturday (Sept. 24) for the Eric Anderson Invitational in Spokane, Wash.