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Kurgat Named National Women's XC Athlete Of The Year
Caroline Kurgat became the second GNAC athlete to win the Division II women's cross country national title, posting a 20-second victory at the national meet on Nov. 18.
Caroline Kurgat became the second GNAC athlete to win the Division II women's cross country national title, posting a 20-second victory at the national meet on Nov. 18.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NEW ORLEANS – A dominant cross country season that includes big wins in all three championship races has earned Alaska Anchorage senior Caroline Kurgat the Doris Brown Heritage Award from the U.S. Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as the Division II Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year.

The organization’s national awards were announced on Nov. 21. This is the second time that an Alaska Anchorage athlete has earned a national postseason award from the USTFCCCA. Micah Chelimo was named as the Division II Men’s Athlete of the Year after he won the 2012 NCAA individual title.

Kurgat left no doubt as to the caliber of season she had with her performances in the championship portion of the season. She defended her GNAC championship with a 56-second victory on Oct. 21, covering a wet and muddy Lake Padden course in 20:49.42. Two weeks later, in Monmouth, Oregon, Kurgat surged to the front and never let go of the lead as she turned in a 38-second win at the NCAA West Regional meet with a time of 20:26.1.

At the Nov. 18 NCAA Championships in Evansville, Indiana, Kurgat took the lead for good at 3,000 meters and never looked back. She eventually extended her margin to 20 seconds as she claimed the national title with a time of 20:32.3.

Kurgat raced just twice prior to the championship meets. She won the Lewis Conference Crossover on Oct. 7 with a time of 21:18.9. Her one loss came in the San Francisco Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 2. Kurgat was fifth behind four USF runners and was just eight second behind the lead runner.

The USTFCCCA’s award for the Division II cross country athlete of the year was renamed in 2016 for Doris Brown Heritage, the former standout athlete and coach at Seattle Pacific. A five-time international cross country champion and two-time Olympian, Heritage was named four times as the GNAC Cross Country Coach of the Year before retiring in 2007.

In addition to her national award, Kurgat was named the USTFCCCA’s West Region Women’s Athlete of the Year and the GNAC Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year. She was also named three times as the USTFCCCA Division II Women’s Athlete of the Week in 2017.

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