Cross country excels at Big Sky Championships

The Portland State cross country teams have been striving for improvement all season. On Nov. 2, the Vikings proved they had achieved their goal at the Big Sky Championships.

Last year, the men’s team was only able to take seventh out of eight places in the 8K run. The women did not even fare that well, coming in dead last in the 5K.

This season, the outcome in Pocatello, Idaho, was much different. The Viking men were able to take sixth place overall, led by Evan Garich’s 26th individual finish at 27 minutes, 10 seconds, just 2:17 behind winner Carey Jermyn of Montana State. Garich also led the men in last season’s championships, where he came in 36th. Michael Davenport was right behind Garich in 27th place, with a time of 27:12. Bill Dolan came in 31st at 27:31 while Chris Hollis and Mike Kebbe finished in 36th and 37th places, respectively.

Montana State won the men’s competition, pulling off a huge upset. Big Sky Conference coaches had predicted that the No. 22 nationally ranked team would finish in third place.

The women also showed considerable improvement this season, finishing in fifth place overall. Jenny Rodgers, who also led the team last year, came in at 11th place with a time of 19:32. Brynn Cogdill finished in 19th at 19:56, and Annie Kawasaki came in 29th at 20:28.

As predicted, Northern Arizona dominated the women’s competition, led by sisters Ida and Johanna Nilsson, who finished in the top two slots with respective times of 18:16 and 18:30.

The Viking men’s competition point total of 157 is a school record and is 35 points better than their 2001 finish. The women also made history, tying their fifth place finish in 1996, a year that marked PSU’s induction into the Big Sky Conference and what had been their best ranking in the championships to date.

Next up, the Vikings will head to Palo Alto, Calif., for the NCAA Western regionals on Nov. 16. This competition includes runners from several of the top teams in the West and will be a considerably tougher run than the BSC Championships.

“It’s very important that we come in with a competitive and confident attitude,” assistant coach Mike Hickey said in a recent Vanguard article.

Annie Kawasaki led the women at the event last season with a 23:29, 58th place finish in the 6K meter run. Paul Loprinzi had the best Viking men’s time at 34:19 and a 90th place finish overall in the 10K meter race. Stanford has dominated the competition the past two years, taking first place in both the men’s and women’s races.