Pilots look ahead in cross country
It wasn't the trophy-earning result of recent years, but the Portland men took some satisfaction from their 10th-place finish Saturday at the NCAA Division I cross-country championships.
Fifth-year senior Caleb Webb led the way for the Pilots, finishing 31st. A native of Big Bear Lake, California, he covered the 10,000-meter course in 31 minutes, 13.5 seconds.
It was a nice way to cap five years at Portland for the former California state high school cross-country champion, who was a member of Portland's second- and third-place teams the previous two seasons.
"It took him five years of what he felt was subpar running to put together his best day. We're really proud of him for hanging in there and continuing to work hard," Portland coach Rob Conner said. "It was a special end to five years for him."
The race was held in steady rain and temperatures in the mid-30s on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Conner said the Pilots figured rain would work to their advantage, but that didn't happen.
"Each guy said he was just trying to survive. It was that difficult," Conner said.
Portland's West Coast Conference rival, Brigham Young, won the team title with 109 points, denying runner-up Northern Arizona (163) a fourth consecutive title. Colorado was third with 164 points, as the top three teams entering the race easily outdistanced the competition.
The Pilots' 314 total trailed No. 9 Oregon by seven points. Stanford led the Pac-12 schools, placing sixth out of 31 teams with 248 points.
Portland senior Emmanuel "Manu" Roudolff-Levisse from France went out with the lead pack but fell back to finish 49th in 31:29.9. Roudolff-Levisse had placed 11th in 2017 and 21st in 2018 to help the Pilots to podium finishes.
Roudolff-Levisse was 11th a couple of miles into Saturday's race, but the fast start impacted many in the field, and he began to fall back after about 5,000 meters.
Portland's other scoring runners were senior Michael Teran-Solano from Fontana, California (78th, 31:46.0), sophomore Evert Silva from Fresno, California (98th, 31:58.7) and junior Riley Osen from Winfield, Kansas (114th, 32:05.6). Nonscoring runners for the Pilots were junior Reuben Kiprono (133rd, 32:14.0) and senior Joe Horen (186th, 32:48.1).
The Pilots graduated five of the seven runners from last season's third-place team. Webb and Roudolff-Levisse were the only runners with previous nationals experience. Conner said that after placing third at nationals with five seniors in 2014, the Pilots followed with a down 2015 season, finishing ninth in the regionals. This year, Portland was first in the regional race.
Conner said he feels his team is set up for continued success. Silva, Osen and Kiprano now have nationals experience. Justin Hazell had a solid sophomore season and was on the cusp of running at nationals. Sophomore Clement Leduc, a friend of Roudolff-Levisse from France who arrived in Portland this summer, will have a year of training under his belt.
The Pilots will add one of the top high school runners in the nation. Matt Strangio from Jesuit High in Carmichael is the California cross-country champion and won the 3,200 state title on the track as a junior.
Next comes the indoor track season, which for the Pilots features up to six events in January and February, all at the University of Washington. All of the current seniors except Roudolff-Levisse, who graduates with his MBA in December, plan to compete on the track.
n Portland redshirt sophomore Anna Pataki placed 57th in the NCAA women's 6,000-meter race in 21:00.6. That tied for the 10th-best nationals finish for a Pilot woman.
n Junior Cooper Teare from Alameda, Calif., led the Oregon men, finishing sixth in 30:49.2.
The Ducks had four runners among the first 74 finishers.
n The Oregon women finished 26th. Sophomore Taylor Chiotti from Southridge High was 79th in 21:07 and was the only Duck in the top 100.
n Arkansas won its first women's cross-country national title to complete a sweep of the 2019 championships. The Razorbacks also won the women's indoor and outdoor track and field championships this year.
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