There are many more well-known athletes who deserve to be written about. But there is a uniqueness to Dale’s life journey that impressed and compelled me to write about him. First there was our parallel careers and life-long friendship. I was there when he rose to national stardom. I was part of the epic flow of winning and losing to each other for eight years. I ran against many athletes that became his teammates at Oregon State University. I was a teammate to Jan Underwood who also joined him at Oregon State.
There were other less obvious connections. We both grew up in Orange County, less than ten miles apart. We both struggled with identical high school GPAs of 1.8. Both attended Junior Colleges because of our grades and the mentoring ties we had to our respective coaches. We both ran all our Cross Country races barefoot, and I believe we developed almost identical running form because of this.
When Dale left for Oregon, he had raised his GPA to 2.3. When I matriculated to Occidental College, my JC GPA was 2.3. At OSU he raised his GPA to a very credible 3.65. When I completed my Master’s Degree at San Diego State, my GPA was about 3.7. He longed to experience the great outdoors as a Forrest Ranger or Fish and Game agent. My high school counselor advised me to become a Forestry major. His best time in the mile was 4.03 and mine was 4.05. I began to think I had a twin brother.
But the compelling reason to write his biography was the striking consistency of his philosophy and behaviors in athletics, as a teacher and as a robust Mountain Man. He was exactly the same person in all three areas. He was honest, direct and always in pursuit of excellence. What you saw was what you got. What you got was an independent thinker, a compassionate educator and a throw-back to the Mountain Men who helped settle this great county.