ANNAPOLIS, OCT. 20 -- Army senior Aaron Pogue, the individual winner of the 53rd Army-Navy cross-country meet today, is three seconds from qualifying for the U.S. Olympic trials in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. But instead of speaking of his plans for fulfilling his dream of an Olympic berth, his conversation was consumed by talk of helicopters, artillery guns and the Saudi Arabian desert.
Olympic dreams are not so easily fulfilled when you're posting national times at a service academy. And dual meet cross-country races assume different proportions when real-life battles are half a world away.
Pogue sprinted away from Navy sophomore Greg Keller in the final 300 yards to win the five-mile race in 24 minutes 17.3 seconds. Keller, at 24:20, led teammates Don Brown and Mike Conover across the finish line, assuring Navy's third consecutive victory over Army, 24-34. Navy has won 16 of the last 17 meets against the Cadets.
"Tino Carter, an Army cadet who won this race two years ago, wrote to me and said, 'I'm not sure where I'm going but if I have to go to Saudi Arabia, I guess it's in the contract,' " Pogue said. "You don't think about it but you know when you graduate that it's in the contract."
Kathy Fitzpatrick and Marty Shue ran together for most of the women's race, leaving behind Army runners after the first mile. They crossed the line together, in 18:21. Fitzpatrick is undefeated this year in dual-meet competition. Navy scored a 15-54 victory, its third straight over the Cadets.
"Oh yeah, it's important," said Shue, who wants to be a Navy flight officer. "It's tradition and this whole school is built on tradition."
The tradition follows Navy runners into post-academy careers. Paul Gaffney, a 1968 graduate and now a captain and assistant chief of naval research in Washington, flew 29 hours from Vietnam to West Point, N.Y., in 1971 to watch the meet. He was the race announcer today.
His former teammate, Jim Dare, a captain stationed in Norfolk, competed in the steeplechase in the 1972 Olympics. That was after he served a year in a submarine.
"After cross-country, I knew I could do anything; I had the endurance," said Dare. "On subs, sometimes you have to stay awake 24, 36, 40 hours. And I knew I could."
The race tactics often take on military-like seriousness. Navy planned two attacks. The first was to sprint and hope Pogue would follow. If that failed, Keller and Frank Flores would squeeze him out of the action. Neither worked.
"We went at it. We would've done anything to each other in the race, but after, we're good friends," said Pogue. After the race, Pogue went to the grave of Bob Packowski, a Navy runner who died in an automobile accident last year.
"When it comes down to it, we work together," said Pogue. "Who knows? We might have to be together in Saudi Arabia."
Big East Championships: Pittsburgh's Keith Dowling, who finished ninth last year, set a course record of 24 minutes 11 seconds in winning the conference title at Van Cortlandt Park in New York.
Providence regained the team title with 55 points. The Friars, in winning the crown for the eighth time, were followed by Connecticut with 68 points, Pittsburgh 71, Boston College 101, defending champion Georgetown 121, Villanova 122, St. John's 162, Syracuse 226 and Seton Hall 257.
Dowling bettered the previous five-mile course record of 24:38.3, set by John Trautmann of Georgetown last year. Andy Ball of Connecticut trailed Dowling by 55 yards in 24:21.2. Steve Kolman of Georgetown was next in 24:28.3.
Villanova, the nation's No. 1 team, defended the women's title with a perfect score of 15 points, as sophomore Nenna Lynch led a sweep of the first five places in 17:07.51 for the 3.1-mile race.
Soccer: Linda Hamilton scored two goals as four-time defending national champion and third-ranked North Carolina beat previously unbeaten and top-ranked Virginia, 3-0, in an ACC women's game in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Tar Heels are unbeaten in 104 home games (102-0-2) since the program started in 1979.
Sophomore forward Kristine Lilly opened the scoring 7:37 into the match. Less than 11 minutes later, Hamilton headed in Jane Vest's corner kick. Hamilton scored again on another corner kick, 16:20 into the second half, on an assist from Mia Hamm (Lake Braddock High).
The shutout was the eighth straight for North Carolina against Virginia, which has not scored on the Tar Heels since 1984.
Virginia is 16-1; UNC is 14-1-1. The ACC tournament begins Thursday in Charlottesville. . . .
John Sine (West Springfield) scored the only goal on a deflected shot in the 52nd minute to lift 20th-ranked William and Mary (11-4-2, 5-1) to a 1-0 Colonial Athletic Association victory over 14th-ranked George Mason (10-4-3, 4-1) in Fairfax.
Sine's 18-yard shot through a crowd hit the crossbar and deflected off Patriots goalkeeper Ricardo Leite and into the net.