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Located in five states and the Canadian province of British Columbia and with a strong presence in or near the largest city of each, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference has established itself as one of the top NCAA Division II athletic conferences in the nation during its 16-year history.

Founded in July 2001, GNAC teams have had over 100 NCAA Division II Top-10 national team finishes in 15 of the 16 sports that it sponsors.

During the 2017-18 year, the GNAC saw 14 teams advance to national postseason competition with the conference’s greatest success coming in cross country and track and field. The Alaska Anchorage women’s cross country program led the way with a fifth-place finish at the Division II Championships.

The Seawolves were led by Caroline Kurgat, who won the individual cross country national title and went on to win championships during the outdoor track season in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Kurgat was named the Division II winner of the Honda Award by the Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards.

Western Oregon’s men finished sixth at the Division II Indoor Track and Field Championship, matching its finish from last year. The Wolves saw Dustin Nading win an indoor national title in the mile and saw their distance medley relay team repeat as champions. During the outdoor season, David Ribich closed his career by setting a Division II record in the 1,500 meters and repeating as national champion in the event.

The conference advanced three women’s basketball teams to regional competition with Montana State Billings making the Division II Elite Eight after beating Alaska Anchorage for the West Regional championship.

During the fall, Central Washington became just the second team in GNAC football history to finish the regular season undefeated and earned the No. 1 seed in Super Region 4 in the NCAA Division II Championship. Western Washington’s volleyball program tied a GNAC record with 19 conference wins en route to a spot in the West Regional championship match. For the second straight season, the conference advanced at least four teams to the NCAA Division II Volleyball Championship.

In the conference’s 17-year history, GNAC teams have won four national championships. Former GNAC member Seattle University won the 2004 NCAA Division II men’s soccer national title before moving up to the Division I level. Seattle Pacific won the 2008 national championship in women’s soccer and was the national runner-up in 2005. The Vikings’ men’s basketball program claimed the 2012 Division II national title while Western Washington’s women’s soccer program won a national title in 2016.

Also earning second-place national finishes have been Seattle Pacific in women’s soccer (2005), women’s basketball (2005) and women’s cross country (2007) and Western Washington in volleyball (2007).

GNAC athletes have also been successful academically, winning 84 Google Cloud/CoSIDA Academic All-American awards.  Eight of those came during the 2017-18 academic year.

Western Oregon’s Dustin Nading was not only named a First Team Academic All-American, but was also recognized as the Division II Track & Field/Cross Country Academic All-American of the Year. The Wolves’ David Ribich, Western Washington’s Jasmine McMullin and Alaska Anchorage’s Caroline Kurgat also earned first-team track and field honors while Seattle Pacific’s Ryan Higgins was a First Team Academic All-American in men’s soccer. The five give the GNAC a total of 22 Google Cloud/CoSIDA First Team Academic All-Americans, which honor both academic and athletic achievement.

The GNAC’s 11 full-time members are located in one of the most picturesque areas of North America, covering five U.S. states and one Canadian province.

Representing the Evergreen State in the conference are Central Washington University, Saint Martin’s University, Seattle Pacific University and Western Washington University.  All four schools are within 110 miles of Seattle, the state’s largest city.

Alaska is the home to GNAC members University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The only Canadian member in the NCAA is Simon Fraser University, which is located in Burnaby, B.C., a suburb of Canada's third largest city, Vancouver.

Other conference members include Western Oregon University, which is a short drive from both the capital of Oregon (Salem) and the state’s largest city (Portland); Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, which is located near Idaho’s largest city and capital (Boise), and Montana State University Billings which is situated in the largest city in the Treasure State. The newest conference member is Concordia (Ore.), which is located in Portland. The Cavaliers begin competing in the GNAC and Division II in the fall of 2015 and was approved for full Division II membership in 2017.

The GNAC also has a presence in California, as both Humboldt State and Azusa Pacific are affiliate members in the sport of football.

Humboldt State and Seattle University were charter members of the conference.  Humboldt left the GNAC following the 2005-06 season to join the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) but remains in the conference as a football-playing member. Seattle University departed following the 2007-08 season to compete in NCAA Division I.