Seawolves Running For Seventh Men's Cross Country Title
Michel Ramirez (left) and Edwin Kangogo have been Alaska Anchorage's top runners all season and are expected to challenge for the individual title.
Michel Ramirez (left) and Edwin Kangogo have been Alaska Anchorage's top runners all season and are expected to challenge for the individual title.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Over the last six seasons, Alaska Anchorage has been nothing short of dominant at the GNAC Cross Country Championships. The Seawolves hope to win lucky title No. 7 on Saturday as the championship meet returns to Bellingham’s Lake Padden Park.

In four of the last championship meets, the Seawolves have scored under 30 points and put together near perfect scores of 18 points in 2014 and 21 points in 2015. In their three meets this season, UAA has finished no worse than second, recording a perfect 15 once, and has not lost to another GNAC team.

It helps that eight runners return from last year’s squad that not only won the GNAC and West Regional meets, but went on to place third at the NCAA Division II Championships.

Junior Edwin Kangogo and senior Michael Ramirez led the Alaska Anchorage charge and both are contenders for the individual title. Kangogo, a 2015 All-American, placed third at last year’s championships and has a win and a top-five finish under his belt in 2016. Ramirez, a 2014 All-American, has placed no worse than fourth in any meet this season.

Two-time defending GNAC individual champion Henry Cheseto also returns to the fold, but has finished no better than 11th in two races after winning all but one he race he competed in as a sophomore. That opens the door for a number of talented individuals who would like to be the first non-UAA athlete to win the individual title since 2007.

Western Oregon’s David Ribich tops the list. The junior placed fourth last year and won his first two races of the season in 2016. Ribich, however, has not raced since placing second at the Sept. 17 Sundodger Invitational.

Western Washington junior Isaac Derline put his name on the watch list after winning the WWU Classic on the Lake Padden course on Oct. 8. Derline ran 31:13.2 for the NCAA championship distance of 10,000 meters, finishing 23 seconds ahead of Ramirez.

Others to watch in the podium chase include Northwest Nazarene freshman Godfrey Kemboi, who ran a season-best 25:40 for 8,000 meters last week at the Lewis & Clark Invitational, and Western Washington junior Andrew Wise, who was 10th at last year’s GNAC meet.

Other top-10 finishers from last year’s meet on the team rosters for 2016 include Simon Fraser’s Marc-Antoine Rouleau (seventh), Alaska Anchorage’s Victor Samoei (sixth) and Nathan Kipchumba (ninth) and Northwest Nazarene’s Isaac Mitchell (eighth).

In the team competition, Simon Fraser and Western Washington stand the best chance to dethrone the Seawolves. The Clan and Vikings finished third and fourth, respectively, to UAA at the Western Washington Classic. Simon Fraser returns five competitors from last year’s meet while Western Washington returns seven.

Western Oregon also stands to make a charge at the team title. The Wolves finished ahead of Simon Fraser at September’s Ash Creek Invitational and has solid depth with Ribich, freshman Justin Crosswhite and sophomore Dustin Nading.