During March Madness and the bowl season contests leading up to the National Football Championship it sometimes appears that the NCAA is the sum and summit of collegiate sports. In highlighting the achievements of Pilot Athletics we tend to focus on our brushes-with-greatness in terms of NCAA honors. But before UP hooked-up with the NCAA, we used to go steady with the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics).
And while the NCAA National Championship Women’s Soccer teams (2002 & 2005) won trips to Washington, D.C. and the White House, and a parade in downtown Portland….
The University of Portland’s first National Championship athletic title was earned at the NAIA by the women of the 1985 Cross Country Team. A rapid and amazing development, as related in the 1983 Track Media Guide, “In 1980 the University of Portland women’s track team consisted of two women – Teresa Holmes and Diana Brink. Three years later the track team has 19 athletes and the foundation of a solid program” (p. 17). A confidence well-founded. The Women’s Cross Country team entered NAIA competition in 1982 winning the District II title, and repeating as District II champs in 1983, 1984, 1985. In 1985 going on to take national honors and emerge as the team to bring the University of Portland its first national title. The pioneering achievements of the 1985 squad were recognized in 2010 when the National Championship Cross Country Team was inducted into the University of Portland Athletic Hall of Fame (see Hall of Fame Citation, below).
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