College notebook: Another runner-up finish at nationals not easy for WWU’s Porter to accept

Hockinson runner comes to terms with cross country finale

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Sarah Porter isn’t sure how to feel about finishing second again.

But within a few days of her second runner-up finish at the NCAA Division II cross country national championships, she was feeling better.

“Actually, I don’t know,” the Hockinson High School graduate said Tuesday, reflecting on her feelings. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot, because last year when I took second, I was ecstatic. This year, it was a little bit of a disappointment, but I was really thinking about it today, and I don’t know that I could have done anything differently or that I could have given any more, so I have to be happy with that.”

Shippensburg University junior Neely Spence outdueled Porter for the individual national championship with a time of 20 minutes, 41.2 seconds over the 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) course at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville, Ky. Porter was about 15 seconds behind, in 20:56.1.

Western Washington junior Lauren Breihof, a Mountain View High School graduate, finished 49th — 38th in team scoring — in 22:32.6. WWU was 10th in the team race.

Race conditions made the day about place, not time.

“I wasn’t worried, really, about the time at all,” Porter said. “All of that week, every time we ran, I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be such a fast course,’ then lo and behold, we wake up and there’s a couple inches of snow on it. I think that times were really kind of irrelevant.”

It was also a day for the proper equipment.

Some runners in both the men’s and women’s races were slipping in the snow, and Porter said running in spikes was essential.

“If I’d worn flats, I wouldn’t have finished second,” Porter said. “I would have been slipping around.”

Porter said she did not at all mind running in the snow.

She had recently acquired some experience in that, as the NCAA-II West Regional on the Vikings’ home course in Bellingham also was run in snow that fell overnight.

“At regionals, that first mile I felt like I was going 5:10 or 5:15 pace — and I went through the mile at 6 minutes even,” she said. “It’s kind of disheartening. It feels like you’re running in oatmeal, but everyone has to deal with it. I guess it’s safe for people with longer legs, maybe, because they’re not spending as much time on the ground. It doesn’t bother me.”

Spence was 2008 national runner-up and was “kind of supposed to win last year,” Porter said, but was struck by illness while leading the race and ended up 43rd. Spence is two-time D-II champion in the 5,000 meters in both indoor and outdoor track, and “is just phenomenal,” Porter said.

Porter’s race plan was to make the meet between herself and Spence. That part of the plan worked.

“What I wanted to happen was that I wanted to go out hard enough that it would be a two-person race between me and her, and it was,” Porter said. “I led for probably about up to the 5K or 3-mile mark before she took off.”

Porter is a three-time All-America in cross country, having finished 13th at nationals in 2008 and second in 2009 and 2010. She is a four-time NCAA-II West Region all-star (Top-15 finisher) and won regional and Great Northwest Athletic Conference crowns this year. She was GNAC Freshman of the Year in 2007 and GNAC Athlete of the Year as a senior.

Looking back, Porter said her favorite memory of her recently concluded collegiate cross country career was her next-to-last race — not because she won a regional championship, but because friends and family were there.

“I’m tempted to say last year at nationals, but I actually think that regionals this year was really special because it was at home and because my parents were there,” she said. “That was really special. That was a race that proved a lot to myself. I think that probably had to be my favorite cross country race.

“Either that, or regionals my freshman year. I took 13th, but I made to nationals as an individual — and that was shocking to me. This year, I’m disappointed that I didn’t win, but that year, just going to nationals was a huge thing. I was really excited about that.”

Gardner, Mendoza garner Clark honors

Clark College soccer players Angela Gardner and Carlos Mendoza have been honored as the October 2010 “Athletes of the Month.”

Women’s coach Stan Rodrigues praised Gardner for her role as team captain “and ultimate warrior,” and said she “has been perhaps the biggest bright spot for the team this year. Her leadership has been second to none.”

Mendoza was a two-year starter for the men’s soccer team and served as a goalkeeper.

Coach Biniam Afengeus said, “Carlos is an ultimate competitor. He wants to win every game and every practice drill. It is because of his competitive spirit that he is considered one of the top goalkeepers in the entire (NWAACC).”

CSUSB’s Olinger named All-America

Cal State San Bernardino sophomore goalkeeper Tanner Olinger became the first Coyotes soccer player named NCAA Division II All-America. The Skyview graduate was named to the second team.

Olinger allowed just one goal against CCAA South Division teams this season and the Coyotes finished 13-6-1 overall, reaching the regional playoffs.

He shut out every team — Cal State L.A. and Cal Poly Pomona twice, and Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State East Bay, and UC San Diego once each. Olinger had a scoreless streak of 620 minutes, 13 seconds. He ranked first in virtually every key goalkeeper statistic in the CCAA with nine shutouts, a save percentage of .872, and a goals-against average of 0.63.

Cowan All-WAC

Idaho sophomore punter Bobby Cowan earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors after leading the league and ranking 13th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in punting average.

The Evergreen High School graduate averaged 45.14 yards a kick, which is the second-best in school history. Combined with his freshman year average of 43.0, he has a school record average of 44.23 yards a kick.

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