Cross Country: UAA Earns Team of the Week Award
Sarah Freistone (152), who earned GNAC Freshman of the Year honors, races alongside Simon Fraser's Kansas MacKenzie (229) and UAA's Ivy O'Guinn (157).
Sarah Freistone (152), who earned GNAC Freshman of the Year honors, races alongside Simon Fraser's Kansas MacKenzie (229) and UAA's Ivy O'Guinn (157).
Micah Chelimo won his second GNAC title (Photos by Ritch Fuhrer)
Micah Chelimo won his second GNAC title (Photos by Ritch Fuhrer)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. - A pair of record-setting performances has earned Alaska Anchorage’s cross country program the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Team of the Week award.

Led by Micah Chelimo and Susan Tanui, respectively, the Seawolf men and women cruised to victories Saturday in the GNAC championships at the Ash Creek Preserve cross country course on the campus of Western Oregon University in Monmouth.

Chelimo won the men’s 8,000-meter race in a time of 24:49.53, while Tanui won the women’s 6,000-meter race in a time of 20:37.29.  Both athletes have won four races this fall and Chelimo’s victory was his ninth career win including two GNAC titles.

Chelimo’s win extended UAA’s streak of GNAC men’s individual titles to five including three by Mark Cheseto (2008-10).

Team-wise, UAA has won three consecutive GNAC men’s titles and four consecutive women’s titles.

UAA’s women, which is ranked fifth nationally, nearly posted a perfect score as it placed six runners in the Top 7 earning a score of 16.  That broke the GNAC record for lowest score of 24 set by Seattle Pacific in 2007.  The Falcons then went on to finish second that year in the NCAA Division II national meet.

“To be honest, I never had the expectation that we could run that strongly up front,” UAA coach Michael Friess said.  “Simon Fraser (which finished second with 61 points), is a very highly ranked team (9th) but we were about 800 meters (from the finish) and I thought, OK, we’re 1 through 4 so we certainly have the team title.

“But they closed pretty hard and Susan Bick almost got us that perfect score.”

As it turned out, Bick finished sixth, just 0.63 seconds back of fifth-place Lindsey Butterworth of SFU.  Joining Tanui in the Top 4 were teammates Miriam Kipng’eno (2nd, 20:55.16), Ivy O’Guinn (3rd, 21:04.20) and Sarah Freistone who won GNAC Freshman of the Year honors with her fourth-place finish (21:13.06).

Tanui’s time was the quickest in meet history, bettering a time of 20:53.48 by Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler in the 2007 championship meet that was held in Nampa. 

UAA’s No. 6 runner Katie Krehlik joined her teammates on the all-conference team with her seventh place finish in a time of 21:22.34.  And her finish didn't even figure into the team score.

UAA, which is ranked seventh nationally, wasn’t quite as dominant on the men’s side placing only four runners in the top six.  Still the Seawolves set a meet record with their team score of 23, 27 points ahead of second-place Western Washington which finished in the top two for the eighth year in a row.  The Seawolves set the old record of 27 last year.

“You look at the results, and even though we won fairly handily in the point totals, they’re right on us,” Friess said of the nationally 10th ranked Vikings.  “Its not like we’re 30 seconds per runner faster...It was a tough battle, not a blowout.”

Joining Chelimo on the all-conference team were teammates Alfred Kangogo (2nd, 24:57.93), Dylan Anthony (5th, 25:12.49), Jacob Parisien (6th, 25:18.51) and Isaac Kangogo (9th, 25:18.51).

In all that gave, UAA 11 of the 20 slots – 6 women and five men – on the all-conference team.  Chelimo, Alfred Kangogo and Kipng’eno each accomplished that feat for the fourth time.

That is a rather exclusive club.  Chelimo and Kangogo are the fifth and sixth men (and the first UAA runners) to accomplish that feat, while Kipng’eno is only the eighth woman in the 12-year history of the GNAC to do it.

UAA now has two weeks to prepare for the NCAA West Regionals,  They are the defending men’s and women’s champions   which will be hosted by Hawaii Pacific at Kualoa Ranch in Honolulu, HI. That meet will determine which five men’s and five women’s teams from the West Region advance to the NCAA Division II national meet Nov. 17 at Joplin, Mo.

GNAC TEAMS OF THE WEEK: Aug. 27-Sept. 2 – Montana State Billings (Women’s Soccer).  Sept. 3-9 – Western Washington (Volleyball). Sept. 10-16 – Northwest Nazarene (Men’s Soccer). Sept. 17-23 – Central Washington (Volleyball). Sept. 24-30 – Central Washington (Football).  Oct. 1-7 – Western Oregon (Women’s Soccer). Oct. 8-14 - Simon Fraser (Men's Soccer).  Oct. 15-21 - Alaska Anchorage (Men's and Women's Cross Country).