Nov. 19, 2007
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Junior David Kinsella finished in eighth place at the 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships on Monday, the highest finish for an individual in University of Portland history. Kinsella earned All-America honors for his effort and helped the Pilots to a 14th place team finish.
The Redmond, Wash. native was in the lead at the halfway point of the 10K LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course and stayed in the lead pack from start-to-finish. He recorded a time of 29:52.2, 11 seconds behind race winner Josh McDougal of Liberty (29:22.4).
"I was thrilled with my performance," Kinsella said. "I didn't want to downplay my potential coming in, and it's not like I lacked confidence, but I did better than what I had initially anticipated. On any given day a lot of people can be in top 10, and fortunately things went my way. The pace was a little slower out of the gates than I expected, which benefited the way I run. Everyone knew as the race went on that it was going at the kickers' pace; I'm not a kicker, so to just hang around and create some separation from the rest of the pack really was beneficial. Hopefully next year I can be up there at the end as well."
Oregon won the meet title with a team score of 85, while Iona (113), Oklahoma State (180), Northern Arizona (190) and Wisconsin (239) rounded out the top five. Portland finished with 424 total points.
Senior Michael Kilburg also had a strong showing for the Pilots in 66th place overall (30:53.6). Juniors Justin Houck (31:22.6) and Colin Longmuir (31:35.3) and senior John Moore (31:40.5) rounded out the Pilots scorers. Moore, an All-American in 2005, had a stomach cramp slow him to a walking pace mid-race, but recovered to finish.
Kinsella becomes the sixth Portland Pilot to earn All-America honors during head coach Rob Conner's 18-year tenure. His finish eclipsed Uli Steidl's 16th place showing for the Pilots in 1996.
"Kinsella ran great and we expected that," Conner said. "His performance did not surprise me at all, we are very excited for him.
"Moore's side ache really hurt. He was running well with Kilburg, but the cramp pushed him far back of what we had expected. I thought Houck and Longmuir again finished ahead of where we anticipated just like they did at regionals, so I was pleased with their effort. Technically we ran solid, and we still got 14th overall, which is a quality result. We beat a lot of big-time programs and I was happy with the performance."
Kinsella's performance was that much sweeter after missing the cross country season last year due to injury.
"Missing last year has actually been a blessing in a sense," he said. "I've always battled different injuries and I used to play the conservative card in races, but now I run every race like it could be my last and I've had great results."
Portland sophomore cross country runner Dana Morgan finished 46th overall at the 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships on Monday. Morgan, who qualified for nationals individually with a ninth-place finish at the West Regional, ran a time of 21:09.1 at the 6K LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course.
Morgan posted the second best individual finish in Pilots history, trailing only Nicole Karr's All-America performance in 1994 (24th).
"I thought it was a great effort in a brutally competitive meet," Portland women's cross country coach Ian Solof said. "It can be an overwhelming experience for anybody, even more so if you're doing it for first time. She hung in there and had an impressive finish."
Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech won the individual title with a time of 19:30.9, while the Stanford women won the team championship.
Morgan said she was surprised by the pace of the meet, but was happy with her effort.
"Everyone went out extremely fast, I'm not used to having so many go out so fast," she said. "It was a bit shocking and I had trouble getting into a rhythm and getting relaxed. I felt like I ran hard though, and it's definitely good to have nationals experience under my belt."
At the halfway point of the race, Morgan was among the top 40 before falling out of the top 50. Solof said she picked off a few runners in the final 200 meters with a strong finish, a surprising notion to Morgan after the race.
"I was so tired that it was hard for me to tell how I was doing at end," she said. "It actually felt like I was going pretty slow, but other people said it didn't look too bad."
Solof recognized the importance of the experience gained by Morgan and how close his team is to moving more prominently into the national scene.
"It was a good learning experience for Dana," he said. "It's tough to be out there alone without the team. She probably wasn't feeling her absolute best, but she hung in there. Only being a sophomore, it is just going to get better and better for her down the road."
Morgan was quick to point out how close the Pilots' team is to being in the mix next year.
"I think we felt close as a team this year (in getting to nationals) and I have no doubt that we can compete in this environment," she said. "Hopefully my showing here can be a positive for the team, but even before this result, I think we felt like we were getting close."
Senior Laura Mickelson of Loyola Marymount finished 61st with a time of 21:15.8 at the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country National Championship on Monday in Terre Haute, Ind. Mickelson earned the invitation to the event following her 15th place finish (good for an All-Region selection) at the NCAA West Regional earlier this season in Eugene, Ore. The event, which was televised nationally on CSTV for the first time in history, lived up to its billing as both the men's and women's races were extremely competitive and gave the thousands of fans in attendance an exciting show.
Mickelson's national run marked the second consecutive year in which she represented LMU in Terre Haute. Last year, 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. She remains the only Lion in LMU history to run at the NCAA Cross Country Championship.
At the NCAA West Regional, Mickelson led the LMU women to a 15th place finish. The men, running a 10k, finished a program-best 16th in the standings, collecting a team score of 507 to finish just nine points behind the 15th place team, Sacramento State.
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.
For fans who didn't get a chance to see the championship race live, it will be replayed at 11 p.m. ET on CSTV.