The Men Of Montana


I was an 800-meter runner in college. I turned out for cross country at the University of Montana in my senior year.

I wanted to run the 1500-meter or even longer races in my senior year of college. I just ran the mile in high school to get the school record. I also won the mile against the best runners in the state in all divisions at a significant invitational my senior year but decided to run only the 800 (880 back then) at the state meet. I needed to be more confident running the mile because I ran it infrequently.

Let's say I was stubborn when I was a teenager. My coaches wanted me to run the mile and 880 at the state because I was the state leader in both events. I won the state championship in the 880 but never ran the mile again in high school. I had a mental block for some reason about this event.

So, finally, something clicked in my 21-year-old brain going into my senior of college. I decided to try cross country to see if it would help me get stronger to run the 1500 meters.

Those Montana Boys Sure Could Run

We had a great cross-country team at the University of Montana. Dave Gordon was my teammate. Dave just missed making the Olympic team in the Marathon. He ran 2:11 in the Marathon and made the USA World Championship marathon team one year. He also ran 28:14 for the 10,000 meters. Dave was nine seconds from making the U.S. Olympic team in the Marathon.

Tom Raunig was my roommate in college. Tommy was a 28 guy in the 10,000 meters, and collegiate All-American as well. He ended up running a 2:12 marathon. Tommy finished tenth in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. So we had two guys on our team who finished in the top ten at the Olympic Trials. It was the golden era of distance running at the University of Montana.

Mike Brady was also on our team. Mike became a 2:15 marathon runner and qualified for the Olympic Trials in the Marathon.

Scott Browning was another great runner on our team. He finished his career as a 29 guy in the 10k on the road. Scott was also on our NCAA Division 1 indoor national 4x 800-meter team. Scott had some wheels.

So, Montana had great cross-country team potential. The Grizzlies didn't need another 800-meter man on the cross-country team.

My First Cross-Country Race At Montana 

I remember my first collegiate cross-country race. I went out with Samson Kimobwa, a 27-something 10k runner and former world record holder in the 10,000 meters from Washington State and Kenya. I didn't know any better, and the pace felt easy since I usually ran the 800 meters much faster. We were also running on a challenging hilly course. For some reason, I could always run hills super well.

Several other great foreign runners were on the Washington State team that day. This was the era when the Cougars were NCAA Division 1 cross-country champions.

From what I recall, four of the top five WSU runners that day were from Kenya, Ireland, and Greece. Steve James was the lone American on the team. James qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the Steeplechase. James is still one of the best steeplechase runners ever from our state.

I also went out hard with Dave Gordon in my first collegiate cross-country race and several other distance stars of that era. I was four seconds back from Henry Rono at the mile.

Rono was the world record holder in the 3000-meter Steeplechase, 5000 meters,10,000 meters, and at one time even in the 3000 meters. What the heck, I thought. I could go for it and run with the big guns. Again, not knowing any better, I decided to go out with the lead pack.

The race turned out pretty well for an 800-meter runner. Dave got me by three seconds with his strength in the last 800 meters. I was still ahead of some fast, long-distance guys.

Lessons Learned

Looking back, I wish I had listened to my coaches and started running the mile more (and other longer races) at an earlier age. However, as an old guy, it is pretty cool to look back and see that at least I was in the mix to compete with those long-distance guys. I always wished they had more four-mile races like my first one in Missoula. I seemed particularly suited for that distance.

It is also gratifying to look back and see the fantastic job our coaches did at the time.

My coach, Marshall Clark, was a fantastic man who coached at Stanford for many years.

Marshall coached Olympic Marathon runners Tony Sandoval and Don Kardong at Stanford. Sandoval won the Olympic Trials marathon, and Kardong was fourth in the Olympic Games.

Coach Clark coached Stanford to second place at the NCAA Division 1 Cross Country Championships before coming to Montana.

Coach Clark was also the one who convinced me to come out for cross country my senior year.

And yes, Coach Clark could sure make those Montana boys run fast.

The lesson from this article for current runners: Listen to those coaches earlier in your career and have confidence in your God-given ability.                                             

Also, find your best event before it is too late!!


Coach Weber

Philippians 4:13


Rono and Kimobwa are running on the Missoula golf course at a meet two years earlier in 1977. The picture is from my teammate and friend Dave Coppock, who ran in the 1977 race. Dave was also a steeplechase runner for the Griz and became the head cross-country and track and field coach at the  Montana State-Billings, for years.

Rono and Kimobwa were world record holders at one point in their careers. Rono held the world records in the 5000 meters and the Steeplechase. Kimombwa was the the world record at 10,000 meters.

Learn more about  Henry Rono and Samson Kimobwa.


Rono is on the right running in Pullman,  Washington.

Image credit: Unknown


This picture was given to me by Scott Descheemaeker from  Montana State. The image is from an old Montana and Montana Duel cross-country meet. Scott was a cross-country runner for MSU and a steeplechase runner in the spring.


Dave Gordon, running for the Nike Pro Team (after his career at the University of Montana), Athletics West, nearly made the Olympic Team, finishing fourth at the Olympic trials. Dave was on a USA World Championship Marathon Team and, one year, was the first American Finisher at the Boston Marathon.

Dave is number 10 in the picture above and is running in the U.S. Marathon Trials in this picture.

Photo Credit: Leo Kulinaski, Jr.

You can read more about Dave Gordon’s running journey in The Story Of Dave Gordon (


Tom Raunig was one of my roommates at Montana. Tom ran 2:12 for the marathon and was a sponsored pro athlete with the Nike Club, Athletics West. This picture shows Tom in a race while coaching at Montana State.

Tom became the head coach at the University of Montana for 12 years.

Photo credit is Unknown, but I found the picture on Mike Carignan's Facebook site.


Marshall Clark Led Stanford to a second-place finish at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships before becoming head coach at the University of Montana. In college, he coached United States  Olympians Don Kardong, Tony Sandoval, and Duncan McDonald.

Marshall passed in 2002. He is one of the most underrated middle and long-distance coaches ever. Never one for the limelight, he quietly went about his coaching and making a difference in hundreds of lives. 

Photo Credit: Unknown


Samson Kimobwa set the world 10, 000 meter record in 1977.

Photo Credit: United Press International


Henry Rono was the most dominant distance runner in the world when we ran at the University of Montana. He set world records in the distance events. I saw him set the then-world record in the steeplechase at the University of Washington while warming up for the 800 meters at the same track and field meet. Rono has passed now but I will never forget him.

Henry Rono Image:


In May of 2024, we extended an invitation to Dr. Jack Daniels to speak in Olympia at the 40th anniversary celebration of the first women's marathon trials. Dave Gordon, Jack, and I enjoyed a mini-reunion. A University of Montana alumnus, Dr. Daniels has been instrumental in my coaching career. He also assisted Dave during his tenure with Nike's Athletic West Pro team.