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Rapid David Ribich Named GNAC Male Athlete Of The Year
David Ribich collected an indoor national title as part of Western Oregon's distance medley relay and an outdoor title in the 1,500 meters. Photo by Joe Reinsch.
David Ribich collected an indoor national title as part of Western Oregon's distance medley relay and an outdoor title in the 1,500 meters. Photo by Joe Reinsch.
David Ribich
David Ribich

Thursday, June 22, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – National championships, conference records and elite postseason competition are hallmarks of a career well run. David Ribich has accomplished all of those and yet he is just getting started.

The Western Oregon junior cross country and track and field standout continues to impress well after the season is over. He certainly impressed the conference’s athletic directors as they have selected Ribich as the 2016-17 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Male Athlete of the Year.

“It’s an incredible honor to receive this award amongst other national champions and professional-caliber athletes,” Ribich said. “I’m excited to further represent the GNAC at the USATF Championships this week as well as next year.”

“Conference Athlete of the Year is a great honor,” said Western Oregon head cross country and track and field coach Mike Johnson. “David is so consistent, not just in running but in all that he does. He is very intentional. We are all so pleased that David has received this truly special recognition.”

The cross country season served as a warm-up for what would be a breakout track season for the athlete from Enterprise, Oregon, a town tucked up in the northeast corner of the state. Ribich earned All-GNAC honors for the second time with a fifth place finish at October’s GNAC Championships. He followed that up with a 15th place finish at the NCAA West Region Championships in Billings, earning All-West Region honors.

As the indoor season progressed, Ribich flirted with the four-minute mile as he set the GNAC record with a time of 4:02.30 at January’s UW Invitational, a performance that ranked No. 5 in Division II. He claimed the conference title in the mile and the 3,000 meters at February’s GNAC Championships and went on to finish third in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships to earn All-American honors.

Ribich’s biggest indoor success, however, came as part of a team event. The Wolves’ distance medley relay team entered the NCAA meet with a GNAC record performance of 9:45.45 that was ninth best time in Division II history. Western Oregon engaged in a dual for the ages with perennial Division II power Western State, with the race coming down to Ribich’s anchor leg. A battle to the finish, Ribich outleaned Oliver Aitchison at the finish as both teams ran 9:40.15, the fastest in Division II history.

For Ribich and teammates Dustin Nading, AJ Holmberg and Josh Dempsey, it was their first national championship trophies. The efforts helped elevate Western Oregon to a tie for sixth place in the team standings, the best ever finish for a GNAC team at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The two All-American performances earned Ribich selection as the GNAC Indoor Track and Field Male Athlete of the Year.

Ribich did not slow down at all during the outdoor season. His season best in the 1,500 meters of 3:41.45, run at April’s Oregon State High Performance Meet, was a GNAC record and the fastest time in Division II this season. He went on to win his first GNAC title in the 800 meters (1:52.71) and won his third consecutive title in the 1,500 meters with a GNAC Outdoor Championships record time of 3:47.37.

At the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Ribich cruised into the finals with the top qualifying time before locking into a finals battle with West Region rival Kyle Medina of Chico State. Like with the indoor DMR, it came down to a finishing kick as Ribich outleaned Medina at the time, winning his second national championship with a time of 3:49.64.

The impressive performances earned Ribich selection by conference coaches as the GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Co-Male Athlete of the Year, an honor he shared with Division II pole vault champion Payton Lewis of Northwest Nazarene.

The summer has only provided more impressive performances for Ribich. He ran a lifetime best of 3:39.56 in the 1,500 at June’s Portland Track Classic, a time that ranked 24th in the U.S. and is the sixth fastest time ever run in the event by a Division II athlete outside of the collegiate season. The performance earned Ribich an invitation to the USA Track and Field Outdoor National Championships, which run June 22-25 in Sacramento.

With as impressive as Ribich has been on the track, he has been a solid performer in the classroom as well. He was named to both the GNAC Cross Country and Track and Field All-Academic Teams, carrying a 3.35 cumulative grade point average as a communications major.

Johnson said the excellence both on the track and in the classroom is a reflection of the individual that Ribich is. “He is just a good person,” Johnson said. “He is someone you would like to see and speak with. He is always in contact with the track and field community and continually studies the sport. Beyond that, he is enjoying being in school and learning.”

Other GNAC standouts nominated for the Male Athlete of the Year award included Brandon Davis of Alaska (basketball), Andrew Elffers of Azusa Pacific (football), Kevin Haynes of Central Washington (football), Adam Jones of Simon Fraser (soccer), Payton Lewis of Northwest Nazarene (track and field), Drew Martin of Concordia (basketball), Dominik Notz of Alaska Anchorage (cross country/track and field), Mikel Smith of Saint Martin’s (track and field), Taylor Stafford of Western Washington (basketball) and Sam Zook of Montana State Billings (track and field).

GNAC MALE ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
2016-17:
David Ribich, Western Oregon (Cross Country/Track and Field)
2015-16:
Andy Avgi, Western Oregon (Football/Basketball)
2014-15: Brody Miller, Montana State Billings (Baseball)
2013-14: David Downs, Seattle Pacific (Basketball)
2012-13: John Allen, Western Washington (Basketball) & Micah Chelimo, Alaska Anchorage (Track and Field)
2011-12: Grady Wood, Western Oregon (Baseball)
2010-11: Ryan Brown, Western Washington (Track and Field)
2009-10: Johnny Spevak, Central Washington (Football)
2008-09: Mike Reilly, Central Washington (Football)
2007-08: David Registe, Alaska Anchorage (Track and Field)
2006-07: Dustin Bremerman, Seattle Pacific (Basketball)
2005-06: Chris Randolph, Seattle Pacific (Track and Field) & Grant Dykstra, Western Washington (Basketball)
2004-05: Chris Randolph, Seattle Pacific (Track and Field) & Bobby McAlister, Seattle (Soccer)
2003-04: Austin Nichols, Humboldt State (Basketball)
2002-03: Fred Hooks, Humboldt State (Basketball)
2001-02: Mike Hinshaw, Western Oregon (Football/Track and Field)

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