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Portland Men, Dana Morgan and Laura Mickelson Automatic Qualifers for NCAA Cross Country Championships

Nov. 15, 2007

The University of Portland men's cross country team went to the NCAA West Regional hosted at Springfield Country Club to prove a point, and after three Pilots finished among the top five and the team placed second overall, the point was made. Portland is a force to be reckoned with this year.

Junior David Kinsella (29:45.70) placed second overall, while seniors John Moore (30:05.70) and Michael Kilburg (30:06.90) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, to the lead Portland to an automatic NCAA Championships berth. Kinsella, who led a majority of the race, finished second behind Oregon's Galen Rupp (29:35.45) in the 10K event.

Portland juniors Colin Longmuir (30:58.45) and Justin Houck (31:02.40) finished 32nd and 33rd to round out the team scoring.

"Our guys ran awesome," Portland head coach Rob Conner said. "When you have three top five finishers, it's tough not to do well. Longmuir and Houck really came through and did a nice job. We had them projected much lower than they performed and they brought us to a different level."

The Pilots entered the meet ranked No. 20 in the nation and fourth in the West Region according to the latest USTFCCCA polls. The Pilots trailed Oregon, Stanford and California in the region. Oregon, the unanimous No. 1 team in the country, held on for the team title with 47 points, followed by the Pilots (76), Stanford (100), California (112) and Cal Poly (116).

"We had a big turnout of teammates, family and friends of the program here today and I think that gave us a big boost," Conner added.

The Pilots finished 18th at the 2006 NCAA Championships and hope to improve on that this season. The last time Portland placed as high as second in the West Regional was 2001, when the team went on for a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships, the best in school history.

"Our confidence is sky high right now," Conner said. "We'll do great next week at nationals, I guarantee it."

Sophomore Dana Morgan, also of Portland, placed ninth in the women's race and led the Pilots to a seventh-place finish at the 2007 NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships hosted by Springfield Country Club on Saturday. With her effort, Morgan has automatically qualified for the NCAA Championship meet as an individual.

Morgan posted a time of 20:41.40 at the 6K course to earn her third consecutive top 10 finish against elite competition. She has already secured her ticket to the championship meet by virtue of being one of the top four individuals not on an advancing team.

Senior Laura Mickelson of Loyola Marymount was also chosen from the West Region to participate in the NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country Championships, the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Track and Field Committee announced Sunday.

Thirty-eight individuals, the first four athletes from each region who are not a part of a qualifying team and two additional qualifiers, were selected to participate in the championship. In addition, all individual qualifiers must finish in the top 25 in their region. Mickelson finished 15th overall at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday in a time of 20:49.90 to lead the Lion women to a 15th place finish. Their overall team time of 1:49.55 in the 6k bettered their previous best of 1:49.58 set at the WCC Championship earlier this season, and the top-15 finish marks the third consecutive year the women have placed in that group.

At last year's NCAA Championship, Mickelson became the first Lion to compete on the NCAA national stage. There, she recovered from an early fall to finish the 6k in 21:38 for 50th place. In addition, Mickelson's time placed her fifth among runners from the West Region last year.

During the regular season this year, Mickelson won three individual titles at the Malibu Oceanside Open, Asics/UC Irvine Invitational and Santa Clara Bronco Invitational.

Indiana State University will host the 2007 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships, November 29, at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course located at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center, Terre Haute, Indiana. The men's race will begin at noon Eastern time followed by the women's race at 12:55 p.m. Both championship races will be broadcast live on CSTV.