Former Gig Harbor resident Miles Unterreiner will pull off a remarkable double Saturday that would be logistically impossible without help from Stanford University and a huge assist by the NCAA: He will compete in the NCAA cross country meet in Louisville, Ky., then fly to Seattle to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship the same afternoon.
All that after the Stanford student and 2008 Gig Harbor High School graduate begins the interview process as a Rhodes finalist today in Seattle, then travels to Kentucky tonight in time for the meet.
Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir said Tuesday the university received a waiver from the NCAA on the travel rule so Unterreiner can take a private plane, the only way to make it all happen.
Unterreiner will run his final collegiate race. If he receives the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, he would study philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford next year in England.
The plane ride is being funded privately.
He does have a three-hour time difference working for him. The race is 1:15 p.m. EST in Louisville, then he is due at his session in Seattle at 4 p.m. PST. The flight is expected to take four hours.
Unterreiner might be running a little late after running his 6.2-mile race for the second-ranked Cardinal, who captured the NCAA regionals last weekend.
His family in Gig Harbor is his support team.
His father, John, will fly to Louisville today to meet up with his son for the race and return trip. His mother, Alison, will get him to and from the airport for today’s interview in downtown Seattle, then be there to pick him up again Saturday in time to shuttle him to the second interview – or, if all goes as hoped, to the announcement of the two Rhodes recipients.
“This is something that has been a dream for him for a very, very long time,” his father said Tuesday night by phone. “He has shown an incredible amount of poise and clarity through this process, and we’re very proud of him.”
Once Stanford received word from the NCAA that Unterreiner would be allowed to travel via private plane, he made the decision Monday night to accept the offer.
Unterreiner wanted to be there for his teammates in their final race.
“My team and my teammates have given me so much over the last four years that it’s really tough for me to let them down at this really important point in the season by not being there,” Unterreiner told the San Jose Mercury News. “There’s no way I can’t go to the national meet.”
Unterreiner was named the 2008 Tacoma-Pierce County high school male athlete of the year by the Tacoma Athletic Commission. He claimed three state titles his senior year at Gig Harbor High, winning the Class 4A cross country meet and the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races in track.
A collegiate All-American in track, his eligibility is already up in that sport. He comes by his running talent naturally as his mom competed in the first U.S. Olympic women’s marathon trials in 1984.
Unterreiner earned a bachelor’s degree in history with honors this past spring, and is currently working toward his master’s.The News Tribune contributed to this report