Going into the Big Sky conference championship cross country race in Sacramento, Calif., Portland State’s men’s and women’s teams both sought to exceed the lackluster expectations given to them during preseason coaches polls. The women’s squad was projected to tie for 9th, while the men’s team was predicted to come dead last in the twelve-team conference.
The women’s team handily defied such projections, placing fifth place overall as a team—the best finish ever in the program’s twenty year history. Kaila Gibson and Sarah Medved both turned in fantastic performances, placing ninth and tenth as individuals, respectively. Both runners improved their 5k records by thirty seconds and became the first pair of Portland State female runners in the program’s history to both place inside the top 10 during a conference championship race.
Equally impressive to the top 10 finishes of Gibson and Medved was the performance of the women’s cross country team, overall. Apart from the program-best fifth place finish, all of Portland’s top 7 female runners placed within the top 50 of the championship race, the first time they have done so since 2004. Freshman runner Hunter Storm led the charge for Portland’s young set of runners, placing third for the team and 28th overall.
The men’s team came out with impressive performances that led them to place eighth overall, four positions higher than predicted. Despite placing in the bottom half of the Big Sky conference, young talent shows promise, assuring the men’s team will continue to improve in consecutive seasons. Freshman runners Max Norman and Drew Seidel led the pack for Portland State with individual finishes of 31st and 32nd, respectively.
Both teams will return to Sacramento on Nov. 9 to compete in the NCAA West Regional championship race.