Recently graduated Crater runner Neil Seibert has signed with NCAA Division I Portland State University.
He will compete in both cross country and track and field.
Seibert, 18, committed to a program that is currently seeking a middle and long distance coach, Seibert said. The coaching job was listed on NCAA Market's website on July 12.
Despite that bit of uncertainty, Seibert said he is happy with his decision.
Kevin Jeffers — a former runner at Southern Oregon University — was the previous distances coach at PSU. He had discussed with Seibert the possibility of the school offering a partial scholarship, but then Jeffers resigned in the spring, Seibert said.
After hearing that news Seibert looked into Morehead State University, a Division I program in Kentucky coached by former SOU head coach Brent Ericksen.
Around that same time, PSU assistant Seth Henson reached out to Seibert. The two traded emails for about four days, Seibert recalled.
"He was like, 'We need guys so let me talk to the coach and see what I can do with you,'" Seibert said. "It basically came down to them saying they would promise to get a quality (distance) coach, and I'm sure they will."
PSU head coach Ronnye Harrison gave the final thumbs up to bring Seibert aboard.
"He's a cool guy," Seibert said of Harrison.
Seibert plans to major in biology as a pre-medical undergraduate.
"The main thing is I love the city of Portland and I've been to the campus and have a good relationship with my roommate," he said. "The thing I liked with Morehead was Brent Ericksen's history, and the education at both universities was pretty much equal. It came down to location and where I would be most successful with running."
Seibert will bring plenty of experience to the table as a past member of the dominant Crater boys program. The Comets had won five straight cross country state championships until last fall, when they finished third.
Seibert captured third in the district and fourth at the cross country state meet in 2011, covering 5,000 meters with a time of 15 minutes, 15 seconds.
"Neil's pretty autonomous as far as pushing himself and doing all the things he needs to do," Crater coach Justin Loftus said. "He's pretty self-directed. He pushed himself beyond my expectations, and those were pretty high."
Seibert was 17th in the state meet as a junior. He said the offseason between his junior and senior years was key to his development.
"I devoted all summer to training," he said. "I was getting up to some high-mileage weeks."
In track and field, Seibert ran on a state 4x400 relay team his junior year. He broke an elbow while running a leg in the relay his senior season and was unable to compete at state.
Meanwhile, former Crater distance ace Max Runia has transferred to Morehead State on an athletic scholarship. He began his career at the University of Oregon before transferring to Washington State University, but Runia said competing at the out-of-state school was too expensive without financial help.
The 19-year-old Runia must sit out the upcoming season in accordance with NCAA rules, but plans to compete in several races independently.
"He's an awesome pickup for those guys," Loftus said of Runia.
Runia will join former Comets teammate Zach Elliott at Morehead State. The women's cross country team there also features three ex-Crater runners: Jasmyn Andrews, Anya Martinez and Laurie Stoutenburgh.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org