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Top-Five National Finish Lifts UAA To Team Of The Week
For the 10th straight season, the Seawolves have finished in the top-10 at the Division II National Championships meet. Alaska Anchorage finished in eighth during the 2015 and 2016 campaigns.
For the 10th straight season, the Seawolves have finished in the top-10 at the Division II National Championships meet. Alaska Anchorage finished in eighth during the 2015 and 2016 campaigns.

Monday, November 20, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Thanks to its fifth-place finish at the 2017 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, Alaska Anchorage women’s cross country has been selected as the Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week.

Placing in the top-10 for the 10th straight season, the Seawolves continue to establish their dominance on the national level. Their fifth-place finish was led by the senior All-American Caroline Kurgat, who punctuated her stellar season by earning the first individual national title in women’s program history.

The victory for Kurgat, combined with a 32nd place All-American finish for Zennah Jepchumba, led Alaska Anchorage to 180 points. The Seawolves placed one point behind Chico State in a competition that saw three of the top-five teams come out of the West Region. Alaska Anchorage finished eighth each of the last two years.

Jepchumba earned her first All-American trophy as she placed 32nd with a time of 21:38.6. Emmah Chelimo and Danielle McCormick just missed out on top-40 finishes with Chelimo placing 44th in 21:48.4 and McCormick placing 45th in 21:49.9. Senior Mariah Burroughs rounded out the Anchorage scoring runners placing 81st in 21:18.9.

“For the most part, we have a pretty seasoned group that has been in our system for a number of years and they’ve had several top-10 finishes at the national meet, which is pretty special. The meets are not too big for them, they’re wanting to do well and it definitely showed,” said Seawolves head cross country coach Michael Friess.

“[Having experienced upperclassmen] established expectations for the team. A lot of them have been to championships in the past; it’s just the level that they want to be and the level that they understand that they’re capable of [running at],” added Friess.

After winning the GNAC Championships by 56 seconds and the West Region Championships by 36 seconds, Kurgat won the national meet in a time of 20 minutes, 32.3 seconds to finish 20 seconds ahead of second place Sarah Berger of Walsh. The dominant performance gave the Seawolves their second cross country individual national champion and the first in women’s program history. Kurgat finished third a season ago, sixth in 2015, and 46th as a freshman at nationals.

“I was racing with (Wolkenhauer) at the beginning, but then she started to fall back and I didn’t want to fall back so I decided (it was time) to just focus on my own race,” Kurgat said. “I knew this was my last race and that I had to do something better than last year.”

Kurgat is the second GNAC woman to win at nationals, joining Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler (2007, 08). Prior to Kurgat’s win, Pixler was the only GNAC runner to sweep the conference, regional and national meets.

“She won it in dominating fashion and went out for the lead,” said Friess. “She didn’t want anyone to run away with it, so she went with it and just kind of established the lead and ran home strong.”

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