By Kim Spir, Guest Special
With just six-hundredths of a second to spare, the blink of an eye, Pilot sophomore Trevor Dunbar claimed the University's first NCAA West Regional Cross Country title on Nov. 13 at the Springfield Cross Country Club.
Dunbar edged Arizona junior transfer Stephen Sambu after a tight drive to the finish.
The 13th ranked Pilots finished fourth with 131 points. Two points separated the winning team, No. 3 Oregon (63), from No. 2 Stanford (65). The Cal Bears were third with 78 points. All four teams advanced to the NCAA Championships.
"It wasn't that big of a win; I'm not jumping up and down over it," Dunbar said after the race. "It's great winning a college race, but the real race is next week at nationals."
Sophomore Lars Erik Malde finished 12th for the Pilots. Both Malde and Dunbar earned All-Region honors
Going into the race, Portland was not at full strength. Last year's top runner, junior Alfred Kipchumba, (who finished 14th nationally) pulled a hamstring at the conference meet and strained his calf going into regionals. Senior Peter Christmas, the Pilots' No. 3 runner during the season, had a strained hip-flexor and did not run, but will be on the team at nationals.
"We were beaten by Cal for the first time in my 21 years here," Pilots coach Rob Conner said. "Beaten essentially without three of our top four. Qualifying without three of our top four is actually a great accomplishment. Matt Frerker and Aaron Scott really came through for us. Craig Hopkins was right with them but fell down in a pile-up at four miles."
Steady drizzly rain fell throughout the day, creating slimy, muddy footing in places on the flat golf course.
Frerker finished 33rd, followed by Scott (37) and Kipchumba (54). Hopkins, a graduate student from Norwich, England, was 55th and freshman Chase Caulkins was 71st.
The Pilot women finished ninth out of 31 teams, led by senior Dana Morgan, who was 40th. Oregon sophomore Jordan Hasay, the Pac-10 champion, won comfortably.
Eleventh-ranked Washington took the women's team title with 73 points and five runners in the top 21 places. Oregon was second, four points behind, followed by Stanford (86) and Arizona (90). The top four teams advanced to nationals.
"(Morgan) was definitely disappointed," said Pilot women's coach Ian Solof, "but I thought she ran what she was capable of on the day. She hasn't felt good this season, but I thought she hung in there pretty well the last mile of the race."
Senior Natalie Hemphill finished 58th followed by sophomore Marit Tegelaar (65), junior Lyndy Davis (69), redshirt freshman Kellie Houser (78), senior Theresa Hailey (87) and freshman Natasha Verma (112).
"I am very proud of this group," Solof continued. "We ran in three of the toughest meets in the nation, and faced some incredible competition. We had high hopes coming into this season, and I feel like we underachieved a bit. Still, I was happy with how we did at the regionals; we could have been 8th but I don't think we could have finished higher than that. I know we have the potential to be 5th-6th in the region and top 30 in the nation, so that is the ultimate goal."
The Pilot men will compete at the NCAA Division I Championships on Monday, November 22, at the LaVern Gibson Championship course in Terre Haute, IN.
Pilot fans can see the race televised live in the Chiles Center Hall of Fame Room. 9:45 a.m.