I didn't see what the big deal is and easily see how it could happen. I certainly didn't think it showed anything about Dobson as a competitor or person.
Then I found evidence to back up my belief.
Apparently, Dobson wasn't the only person to miscount his laps in the 5k at Stanford. It happened in arguably the biggest race of the night with arguably the biggest story of the night - Chris Derrick.
Read this article: http://www.insidebayarea.com/sports/ci_12283069
"I miscounted with three laps to go,'' said Derrick, a cross country All-American last fall. "I thought there were only two laps left, then I saw the time and realized they were right. The last 50 meters I had nothing left."
Worked out pretty well for him.