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Portland Cross Country Coach Rob Conner Named West Region Coach of the Year

Nov. 16, 2007

University of Portland men's cross country head coach Rob Conner was honored on Friday with the West Region Coach of the Year award, as selected by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Conner guided Portland to a second-place finish behind top-ranked Oregon at the West Regional last weekend to secure the Pilots' ninth NCAA Championship meet appearance.

Conner's program has dominated West Coast Conference competition with 29 consecutive league titles, including all 18 under his guidance. Conner has led the Pilots to a total of nine NCAA appearances including four top-12 finishes.

Portland enters this year's championship meet ranked No. 8 in the nation after three Pilots finished among the top five at the West Regional. The last time Portland placed second at the regional, the team went on to place a school-best seventh at the 2001 NCAA Championships.

2007 Cross Country Regional Awards

Great Lakes Region

Coach of the Year: Ron Warhurst, Michigan

The Wolverines ran their best race of the season in tying Wisconsin for first place at the Great Lakes Regional. Two weeks earlier, Michigan finished fifth at the Big Ten Conference meet, 71 points behind Wisconsin. Michigan's men will be making their first NCAA appearance since 2004. Warhurst is in his 34th season as the men's cross country coach in Ann Arbor.

Athlete: Patrick Smyth, Notre Dame

Smyth won the Great Lakes Regional with authority, finishing 16 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Wisconsin's Matt Withrow. Smyth also placed fifth at Pre-Nationals and finished third at the Big East Conference Championships for the second year in a row. He is a junior from Salt Lake City.

Mid-Atlantic Region

Coach of the Year: Pat Henner, Georgetown

Georgetown ran away with the Mid-Atlantic Region championship, finishing 28 points in front of Villanova. Henner's Hoyas placed six runners in the top 15. Georgetown's season included a runner-up finish at the Big East Conference meet and a victory at the Princeton Invitational. Henner has two top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships in his nine seasons as the men's cross country coach.

Athlete: Bobby Curtis, Villanova

The latest in a long line of standout Villanova, runners, Curtis dominated the Mid-Atlantic Regional, clocking 30:08 to win by 10 seconds. He set a course record to win the Big East Conference title in his hometown of Louisville. Curtis also finished first at the Haverford and Paul Short meets. He is a senior.

Midwest Region

Coach of the Year: Dave Smith, Oklahoma State

With his top five runners placing 7-8-9-11-12, Smith guided the ninth-ranked Cowboys to their third straight victory at the Midwest Regional. Oklahoma State finished second to Colorado at the Big 12 Championships. This is Smith's first season as the men's cross country coach at Oklahoma State. He was a Big Ten Conference champion in the 10,000 meters as a Michigan State undergraduate.

Athlete: Trent Hoerr, Illinois

Hoerr clocked a personal-best 29:56 to win the Midwest Regional title by one second over Minnesota's Hassan Mead. Hoerr placed third at the Big Ten Championships and finished 13th at Pre-Nationals. Hoerr, a senior from Morton, Ill., will attempt to become the first Illini male runner to earn All-America honors since 1990.

Mountain Region

Coach of the Year: Mark Wetmore, Colorado

The NCAA champions are surging as they head into their title defense, winning the Big 12 Conference and Mountain Region championships. At regionals, Colorado defeated teams then ranked second and third in the nation (Northern Arizona and UTEP). Now in his 13th season in Boulder, Wetmore is the only Division I coach to win all four NCAA titles - men's and women's team, men's and women's individual - at the same school.

Athlete: Lopez Lomong, Northern Arizona

Lomong won Big Sky Conference and Mountain Region championships and enters the NCAA meet as one of the individual favorites. Lomong won the 3,000 meters at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships and then won the 1,500 at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento. He is a junior from Tully, N.Y.

Northeast Region

Coach of the Year: Mick Byrne, Iona

The Gaels are ranked third nationally heading into the NCAA Cross Country Championships following wins at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Northeast Regional. The MAAC title was Iona's 17th in a row. The Gaels are making their ninth trip to the NCAA Championships in Byrne's 16 seasons as head coach.

Athlete: Max Smith, Providence

Smith won the Northeast Regional by two seconds over teammate Hayden McLaren. Smith also finished fourth at the Big East Conference Championships and placed sixth at Pre-Nationals. He was the Big East indoor champion in the mile last winter. Smith is a senior from Dunedin, New Zealand.

South Region

Coach of the Year: Joe Walker, Alabama

With sophomore standout Emmanuel Bor leading the way, the Crimson Tide won the South Regional and placed third in the Southeastern Conference Championships. Alabama also defeated several higher-ranked teams in finishing third at the Bill Dellinger Invitational. Walker has won four regional men's titles in his seven seasons as Alabama's cross country coach.

Athlete: Felix Kiboiywo, Auburn

Kiboiywo became the first Auburn cross country runner to win a regional title when he raced to the South title in Gainesville, Fla. He clocked 30:06 for 10,000 meters to defeat Alabama's Emmanuel Bor by five seconds. Kiboiywo's season included a sixth-place finish at the Southeastern Conference meet. He is a sophomore from Eldoret, Kenya.

South Central Region

Coach of the Year: John McDonnell, Arkansas

McDonnell collected his 18th straight regional title when the Razorbacks won the South Central title with 37 points. McDonnell was named the Southeastern Conference's coach of the year for the 13th straight season as Arkansas won its 17th straight SEC title. Arkansas is ranked seventh nationally heading into the NCAA Championships.

Athlete: Shadrack Songok, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Songok won his second straight South Central Region and Southland Conference championships this fall. Songok became the first national champion in school history last spring when he won the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He is a junior from Kapsabet, Kenya.

Southeast Region

Coach of the Year: Rollie Geiger, North Carolina State

The Wolfpack moved into the top 10 in the final Division I men's poll following their victory at Saturday's Southeast Regional. North Carolina State earlier finished second at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships and were third at Pre-Nationals. This is Geiger's 26th season as head cross country coach at North Carolina State.

Athlete: Josh McDougal, Liberty

McDougal added to an illustrious list of honors when he claimed his third Southeast Region individual title. Eastern Kentucky's Jacob Korir outkicked him at last year's regional, but McDougal reserved the outcome Saturday, beating Korir by six seconds. McDougal also won the Pre-Nationals for the third time and claimed his fourth straight Big South Conference title. He is a senior from Peru, N.Y.

West Region

Coach of the Year: Rob Conner, Portland

After winning their 29th straight West Coast Conference title, the Pilots made even bigger news with their second-place showing at the West Regional. In finishing second to top-ranked Oregon, Portland beat Stanford to earn an automatic NCAA berth. Conner's men have four top-12 NCAA finishes in his 17 years at the helm.

Athlete: Galen Rupp, Oregon

After finishing second at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships to teammate Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott in his first race of the season, Rupp raced to a 10-second victory over Portland's David Kinsella at the West Regional. Rupp will look to improve on his sixth-place finish in 2006 at the upcoming NCAA meet. On the track, Rupp is the American collegiate recorder in the 10,000 meters at 27:33.48.