Tanui Leads Strong GNAC Showing at Regionals
UAA's Susan Tanui (12) and Joyce Kipchumba (8) finished 1-2 in West Regional.  Simon Fraser's Lindsey Butterfield  (159) placed fourth (Photo by Dan Levine)
UAA's Susan Tanui (12) and Joyce Kipchumba (8) finished 1-2 in West Regional. Simon Fraser's Lindsey Butterfield (159) placed fourth (Photo by Dan Levine)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

SPOKANE, Wash. -  Susan Tanui of Alaska Anchorage won the NCAA Division II Women's West Regional cross country individual title at the Plantes Ferry Athletic Complex Saturday in a 6,000-meter time of 21:45.4 to lead the Seawolves to their fourth team title in the past five years. 

Chico State, meanwhile, cruised to a 48-point victory in the men's race - its largest victory of margin since 2007 - in winning its 10th title in the past 12 years. The Wildcats posted a team score of 33 points, well-ahead of second-place Alaska Anchorage's 81 - as Isaac Chavez led a 1-2-3 CSUC sweep in a 10,000-meter time of 30:55.9.

In the women's race, Chico State, Simon Fraser, Seattle Pacific and Western Washington finished second, third, fourth and fifth to join UAA as team qualifiers for the NCAA national meet Nov. 23 at Plantes Ferry. 

The Clan was led by Lindsey Butterworth, who finished fourth in a time of 22:02.7, while McKayla Fricker placed 10th in a time of 22:36.5 to lead the Falcons.  Katelyn Steen finished third in a time of 21:52.9 to lead WWU.

Connie Morgan of Central Washington, Natalie Evans of Northwest Nazarene  and Annie Wade of Western Oregon qualified for the national meet as individuals by placing sixth (22:18.4), eighth (22:26.5) and ninth (22:32.9), respectively.

Tanui's victory was her second in a row as she also won the individual title last year in Hawaii in a time of 21:18.   GNAC athletes have now won the individual title in eight consecutive years.

Tanui finished just three seconds ahead of teammate Joyce Kipchumba (21:48.4), a trasfer from American International University.

Their 1-2 finish helped the Seawolves finish three points ahead of defending champion Chico State 76-79.  UAA's winning score is the highest since UC Davis won the women's team title in 2002 with 86 points.

"We're happy with the win," UAA coach Michael Friess said.  "Our goal was to run solid and get to the national meet.  Having Susan and Joyce go 1-2 really helped accomplish that.

"Now we'll just try to focus on getting better in the next couple of week and that is something we are capable of doing."

Chavez posted an impressive 36.3 second victory in the men's race which was run in near perfect conditions (mid 40 degree temperatures and no wind) as teammate Johnny Sanchez claimed second in a time of 31:32.2.  Chico's Dayne Gradone finished third in a time of 31:34.6.

Chavez is the first male athlete to finish in the Top 5 in the regional meet in four consecutive years.  He also placed fourth in 2010 and 2012 and was the runner-up in 2012. 

"Obviously it was great to watch the run evolve," Chico State coach Gary Towne said.  "Isaac (Chavez) looked like he was running a training run and Daye (Gradone) and Johnny (Sanchez) were really under control.  We've never had a 1-2-3 finish in the regionals before."

The first non-Chico finisher was Chip Jackson of Western Washington who placed fourh in a time of 31:42.5.

Victor Samoei, who was the first freshman to complete the 10K race (31:49.0), led Alaska Anchorage to its runnerup finish. 

The Seawolves will join Chico State, third-place Cal Poly Pomona, fourth-place Western Washington and fifth place Cal Baptist as national team qualifers.

Earning indiividual slots were Bruk Assefa of San Francisco State (10th, 32:18.0), Tareq Alwafai of UC-San Diego (4th, 32:26.2) and Nicolas Rifflard of Academy of Art (15th, 32:26.7).

NCAA WEST REGIONAL (Nov. 9 at Plantes Ferry Athletic Complex)

Women - Alaska Anchorage 76, Chico State 79, Simon Fraser 94, Seattle Pacific 137, Western Washington 157, Cal State Stanislaus 247, Humboldt State 259, Western Oregon 261, Cal Baptist 265, Central Washington 275, UC San Diego 282, Cal Poly Pomona 305, Hawaii Pacific 328, Cal State L.A. 355, San Francisco State 375, Cal State East Bay 392, Cal State San Bernardino 413, Northwest Nazarene 434, MSU Billings 450, Alaska Fairbanks 553, BYU-Hawaii 567, Sonoma State 692, Saint Martin's 707.

Top 10 Individual (6,000 Meters) - 1. Susan Tanui, UAA, 21:45.4; 2. Joyce Kipchumba, UAA, 21:48.4; 3. Katelyn Steen, WWU, 21:52.9; 4. Lindsey Butterworth, SFU, 22:02.7; 5. Ayla Granados, Chico State, 22:07.3; 6. Connie Morgan, CWU, 22:18.4; 7. Sara Mikesell, Chico State, 22:20.2; 8. Natalie Evans, NNU, 22:26.5; 9. Annie Wade, WOU, 22:32.9; 10. McKayla Fricker, SPU, 22:36.5.

Other GNAC All-Region (Top 25) - 12. Taylor Guenther, WWU, 22:37.6; 14. Anna Patti, SPU, 22:38.2; 16. Rebecca Bassett, SFU, 22:40.4; 18. Ivy O'Guinn, UAA, 22:44.7;  19. Susan Bick, UAA, 22:46.4; 20. Kansas Mackenzie, SFU, 22:49.1; 21. Dani Eggleston, CWU, 22:49.4; 25. Kirsten Allen, SFU, 22:51.9.

Men - Chico State 33, Alaska Anchorage 81, Cal Poly Pomona 90, Western Washington 102, Cal Baptist 150, UC San Diego 168, Humboldt State 206, San Francisco State 214, MSU Billings 250, Simon Fraser 261, Hawaii Pacific 272, Western Oregon 290, Central Washington 325, BYU-Hawaii 376, Alaska Fairbanks 391, Seattle Pacific 408, Cal State Stanislaus 452, Saint Martin's 491. 

Top 10 Individuals (10,000 Meters) - 1. Isaac Chavez, Chico State, 30:55.9; 2. Johnny Sanchez, Chico State, 31:32.2; 3. Dayne Gradone, Chico State, 31:34.6; 4. Chip Jackson, WWU, 31:42.5; 5. Victor Samoei, UAA, 31:49.0; 6. Alfonso Cisneros, Chico State, 31:52.9; 7. Bryton Reim, Cal Baptist, 31:55.5; 8. John Carrell, Cal Poly Pomona, 32:04.3; 9. Dylan Anthony, UAA< 32:14.4; 10. Bruk Assefa, San Francisco State, 32:18.0.

Other GNAC All-Region (Top 25) - 12. Isaac Kangogo, UAA, 32:20.2; 19. Oliver Jorgensen, SFU, 32:31.4; 20. Isaac Griffith, WWU, 32:32.9; 21. Tabor Reedy, WWU, 32:35.2; 23. Kevin Rooke, UAA, 32:36.6; 24. Nathan Richards, WWU, 32:37.7.


For the second time in three years the NCAA Division II West Regional Cross Country championships will be held at the Plantes Ferry Athletic Complex.

Hosts for the event are the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and the Spokane Sports Commission.

The women's and men's championships are set for Saturday.  The women's 6,000-meter championship race begins at 10:30 a.m., followed by the men's 10,000 at 11:30 a.m.

At stake are five men's team berths and five women's team berths in the NCAA Division II National Championships, Nov. 23 at Plantes Ferry.  In addition, the top three male and female athletes not on one of the qualifying teams will also return to Spokane for the national meet.

Chico State is the defending men's and women's team champion, but GNAC champion Alaska Anchorage swept both titles two years ago at Plantes Ferry.

The two schools share the pre-meet favorites this season. 

Chico State's men, which has won nine of the last 11  team titles, is ranked No. 1 in the region and fourth nationally.  Alaska Anchorage, which has produced the last four men's individual champions (Marko Cheseto in 2009 and 2010 and Micah Chelimo in 2011 and 2012), is ranked second in the region and ninth nationally.

The roles are reversed for the women's race which will feature three of the top six ranked teams in the country in Alaska Anchorage (4th), Chico State (5th) and Simon Fraser (6th).

UAA's Susan Tanui, last year's national runnerup, is back to defend her individual title. 

That was the seventh straight individual title for GNAC women as Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific won four straight between 2006 and 2009.  Western Washington's Sarah Porter and Ruth Keino of Alaska Anchorage then finished first in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Full Meet Preview