Bill Roe Classic Headlines XC Competition Slate
CWU's Johan Correa (left) and SFU's Sebastian Brinkman finished 1-2 at last week's Pacific Lutheran Invitational.
CWU's Johan Correa (left) and SFU's Sebastian Brinkman finished 1-2 at last week's Pacific Lutheran Invitational.

Thursday, September 21, 2023
by Evan O'Kelly

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Bill Roe Classic hosted by Western Washington on Saturday morning will feature seven of the 10 Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross country teams.

It will be the first meet in 2023 in which more than three conference schools line up for a head-to-head race, and it falls exactly one month prior to the GNAC Cross Country Championships on Oct. 21 in Anchorage. The meet named after the longtime WWU coach and USA Track & Field administrator Bill Roe will serve as the best preview of the conference championship, with no other meet this fall featuring more than three GNAC schools.

Prior to Saturday’s meet in Bellingham, Western Oregon will host the Mike Johnson Classic on Friday morning and Montana State Billings will toe the line at the Idaho State Bengal Invitational on Friday afternoon in Pocatello, Idaho.

GNAC Cross Country Schedule - Sept. 22 - Sept. 23
Date Meet Location Start Time GNAC Teams Competing
9/22 Idaho State Bengal Invitational Pocatello, Idaho 3 p.m. (MDT) MSUB
9/22 Mike Johnson Classic Monmouth, Ore. 11 a.m. (PDT) WOU
9/23 Bill Roe Classic Bellingham, Wash. 10 a.m. (PDT) UAA, UAF, CWU, SMU, SPU, SFU, WWU

This Week's Storylines

SIMON FRASER SHINES IN DEBUT: Taking the team titles on the men’s and women’s sides at last week’s Pacific Lutheran Invitational, Simon Fraser had a strong start to its 2023 season. Rachael Watkins and Grace Chalk finished in third and fourth, respectively while Kate Cameron (sixth), Grace Mack (eighth) and Charlotte Prangley (ninth) gave the Red Leafs five of the top-10 finishers on the women’s side. Sebastian Brinkman was SFU’s top men’s finisher in second place, while Ephrem Mekonnen (third) and Jose Castro (ninth) each also finished in the top-10 last week.

Read More: Red Leafs Dominate Season-Opening Cross Country Races (SFU Recap)

VIKINGS FRESH HEADING INTO HOME MEET: Preseason favorite Western Washington figures to have a fresh lineup at its home meet on Saturday, as the team has not competed since cruising to victory at the Puget Sound Invitational on Sept. 2 in Lakewood, Wash. The WWU women went 1-through-14 and were led by individual winner Ashley Reeck, while the men had five top-10 finishers led by runner-up Samuel Lingwall. Saturday will be the penultimate day of competition for the Vikings prior to the championship as they’re scheduled to compete again on Oct. 7 at two different meets.

CORREA IS 2-FOR-2: Central Washington newcomer Johan Correa has had as good of a start to his cross country career as possible, winning each of the two races he has competed in this fall. Correa claimed his second GNAC Runner of the Week honor on Monday, after topping the field at last week’s Pacific Lutheran Invitational. His two wins have come against Western Washington and Simon Fraser runners, and Saturday will provide his largest platform yet to put his early season success to the test.

Read More: Wildcats Travel To Bellingham For Bill Roe Classic (CWU Preview)

ESVELT, FALCONS RACE FOR 2ND STRAIGHT WEEK: Much like Correa on the men’s side, it was a strong individual effort from Seattle Pacific’s Annika Esvelt that stole the show in last week’s women’s PLU Invitational. Esvelt placed second among the field of 95 runners hitting a 6k PR of 21:41.3 in her first race of the 2023 season and going 34 seconds faster than she did on the same course in 2022. The junior will lead the Falcons into their second straight week of competition on Saturday.

SAINTS, NANOOKS LOOK TO MAKE MOVES: It was WWU that was unanimously favored in the preseason coaches poll, but both the Saint Martin’s and Alaska women have hopes to compete for the conference title. Both squads will compete on Saturday in Bellingham after having already logged impressive team and individual performances this fall. SMU’s Cassidy Walchak-Sloan was the conference’s top finisher at the Ash Creek Collegiate on Sept. 8, taking third on her way to GNAC Runner of the Week. The Nanooks’ Rosie Fordham and Kendall Kramer have each logged wins in 2023, and will have a chance to put their talents on display in their largest meet of the season thus far on Saturday. On the men’s side, SMU’s Isaac Cortes stole the show in Monmouth two weeks ago as he leads a Saints team that was slotted fifth in the preseason coaches poll.

ANDREW IN A RUSH: Montana State Billings freshman Andrew Rush picked up right where he left off last week, again finishing as the team’s top performer at the Montana Invitational. Facing a field of mostly Division I competition, Rush was the sixth Division II runner across the line and finished 25th overall with an 8k time of 25:43.8.

Read More: Yellowjackets Compete At UM Invitational (MSUB Recap)

KEMBLE VICTORIOUS IN CALDWELL: Northwest Nazarene’s Brody Kemble picked up a victory last week, topping a field of 62 runners at the Cascade Collegiate Conference Preview. Kemble notched a 6k time of 18:25.5 – a collegiate best for the sophomore. The victory came two weeks after his third-place finish at the Dr. Thad Schols Classic, as Kemble has gotten off to a strong start through his first two meets of 2023.

Read More: Kemble’s Win Highlights Nighthawks’ Performance (NNU Recap)

Runner to Watch


John Peckham – Alaska Anchorage

Helping the Seawolf men to victories in both of their dual meets against in-state rival Alaska, Peckham has proved to be one of the top runners in the conference thus far in 2023. While the Seawolves lean on reigning GNAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year Coleman Nash, Peckham plays a vital role among a cohesive men’s team that will be in the mix on Saturday in Bellingham. Peckham started his season with a second-place finish at the Seawolf Throwdown on Aug. 26 with a collegiate-best 5k time of 15:25.5. The junior followed with an individual win at the Nanook Forest Clash on Sept. 9 with an 8k time of 25:53.0. Look for Peckham to be a key contributor as UAA moves into the second half of its season. Although he transferred from Idaho in 2022-23, the 2023 season marks his first fall on the cross country course for the Seawolves.

Read More: Peckham Runs To Victory In Fairbanks (UAA Release)

GNAC XC In The Weekly Coaches Poll Rankings

The United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association releases national and regional rankings throughout the 2023 cross country season. The next set of rankings will be released on Sept. 26.

Western Washington was the lone GNAC program to appear in both national polls, with the men moving up one spot to No. 9 and the women moving up two spots to No. 27. The WWU men stayed at No. 2 in the regional rankings while the WWU women stayed at No. 5. The GNAC had three teams in the men’s regional rankings for the third straight week and four teams in the women’s regional rankings for the second week in a row.

USTFCCCA National Rankings - Men's Cross Country
Poll Team 1 Team 2
Preseason 10. WWU 27. SFU
Week 1 10. WWU 28. SFU
Week 2 9. WWU  


USTFCCCA National Rankings - Women's Cross Country
Poll Team 1  
Preseason -- --
Week 1 29. WWU --
Week 2 27. WWU --


USTFCCCA West Region Rankings - Men's Cross Country
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3
Preseason 2. WWU 5. SFU 8. UAA
Week 1 2. WWU 5. SFU 8. UAA
Week 2 2. WWU 6. SFU 8. UAA


USTFCCCA West Region Rankings - Women's Cross Country
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
Preseason 6. WWU 7. UAF 8. SFU --
Week 1 5. WWU 6. UAF 7. SFU 8. SMU
Week 2 5. WWU 6. UAF 8. SFU 9. SMU

2023 GNAC Cross Country Runners of the Week
Date Women's Runner of the Week Men's Runner of the Week
Aug. 28 Rosie Fordham, Alaska Coleman Nash, Alaska Anchorage
Sept. 5 Ashley Reeck, Western Washington Johan Correa, Central Washington
Sept. 11 Cassidy Walchak-Sloan, Saint Martin's Isaac Cortes, Saint Martin's
Sept. 18 Annika Esvelt, Seattle Pacific Johan Correa, Central Washington

Sept. 18 Runners of the Week

Women’s Runner of the Week: Annika Esvelt – Seattle Pacific

The conference’s top performer at the Pacific Lutheran Invitational, Esvelt finished as the runner up among a field of 95 competitors on Saturday. The junior checked in with a time of 21:41.3 in the 6k race, finishing more than 15 seconds ahead of the next GNAC runner. In her debut race of the 2023 season, it was the first time Esvelt broke the 22:00 barrier in a 6k race collegiately.

Also Nominated: Rachael Watkins, SFU.

Men’s Runner of the Week: Johan Correa – Central Washington

Claiming his second victory of the 2023 season, Correa topped a field of 128 runners at the Pacific Lutheran Invitational on Saturday. Correa clocked an 8k time of 24:23.7, holding off second-place Sebastian Brinkman of Simon Fraser by four full seconds. After winning the Puget Sound Invitational on Sept. 2, Correa again emerged on top of the individual list in a race that featured competition from two other GNAC schools in Simon Fraser and Seattle Pacific.

Also Nominated: Andrew Rush, MSUB; Brody Kemble, NNU; Sebastian Brinkman, SFU.

2023 GNAC Cross Country Championships

The 2023 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships will be held Saturday, Oct. 21 at Kincaid Park and will be hosted by the University of Alaska Anchorage in Anchorage, Alaska. All 10 conference members will compete in both that event as well as the ensuing NCAA West Region Championships which are set for Nov. 4 at Western Oregon.

2023 GNAC Cross Country Women's Race Winners
Date Race Winner School Distance Time
8/26 Seawolf Throwdown Rosie Fordham Alaska 5k 18:10.5
9/2 Puget Sound Invitational Ashley Reeck Western Washington 5k 17:41.0
9/9 Nanook Forest Clash Kendall Kramer Alaska 6k 22:32.0


2023 GNAC Cross Country Men's Race Winners
Date Race Winner School Distance Time
8/26 Seawolf Throwdown Coleman Nash Alaska Anchorage 5k 15:06.0
9/2 Puget Sound Invitational Johan Correa Central Washington 5k 15:00.4
9/9 Nanook Forest Clash John Peckham Alaska Anchorage 8k 25:53.0
9/15 Cascade Collegiate Preview Brody Kemble Northwest Nazarene 6k 18:25.5
9/16 Pacific Lutheran Invitational Johan Correa Central Washington 8k 24:23.7

2023 GNAC Cross Country Women's Race Winners

Last Week's GNAC Results

Montana Open (Sept. 15 at University Golf Course, Missoula, Mont.): Men (8,000m): 1, Montana State, 15. 2, Eastern Washington, 78. 3, CSU Pueblo, 81. 4, Montana, 101. 5, Carroll, 138. 6, Rocky Mountain Coll., 139. 7, MSU Billings, 215. 8, Clark Coll., 236. Top 5 Finishers: 1, Matthew Richtman, Montana State, 24:04.7. 2, Owen Smith, Montana State, 24:08.4. 3, Ben Perrin, Montana State, 24:29.1. 4, Sam Ells, Montana State, 24:34.5. 5, Rob McManus, Montana State, 24:38.2. Top 5 GNAC Finishers: 25, Andrew Rush, MSUB, 25:43.8. 57, Wyatt May, MSUB, 27:21.7. 59, Will Hyatt, MSUB, 27:29.3. 68, Nate Tweedy, MSUB, 28:37.7. 74, Jordi Peiro, MSUB, 29:13.1. 79, Jackson Bailey, MSUB, 29:56.0. Women (5,000m): 1, Montana State, 29. 2, Weber State, 61. 3, CSU Pueblo, 73. 4, Eastern Washington, 81. 5, Montana, 119. 6, Carroll, 200. 7, Rocky Mountain Coll., 206. 8, Clark Coll., 241. 9, MSU Billings, 272. Top 5 Finishers: 1, Kyla Christopher-Moody, Montana State, 17:08.6. 2, Helen Braybrook, CSU Pueblo, 17:32.6. 3, Bailey Winter, Weber State, 17:45.4. 4, Laurie Murphy, Weber State, 17:49.5. 5, Mya Dube, Montana State, 17:52.2. Top 5 GNAC Finishers: 69, Madeline Severson, MSUB, 20:30.5. 71, Cecily Eagleton, MSUB, 20:35.7. 74, Carey Berendsen, MSUB, 21:04.5. 79, Aspen Tolman, MSUB, 21:12.5. 83, Toree Manning, MSUB, 21:43.4.

Cascade Collegiate Conference Preview (Sept. 15 at Fairview Golf Course, Caldwell, Idaho): Men (6,000m): 1, College of Idaho, 24. 2, Southern Idaho, 47. 3, Northwest Nazarene, 57. 4, Bushnell, 129. 5, Walla Walla, 136. Top 5 Finishers: 1, Brody Kemble, NNU, 18:25.5. 2, Braden Heath, COI, 18:44.0. 3, Elias Everist, COI, 18:47.4. 4, Daniel Butler, COI, 18:49.9. 5, Owen Rodgers, Southern Idaho, 18:52.4. Other Top GNAC Finishers: 11, Ian Stockett, NNU, 19:10.8. 17, Quincy Ellis, NNU, 19:30.8. 18, Asher Ingram, NNU, 19:31.1. 19, Carter Stedman, NNU, 19:34.8. 28, Micah Chi, NNU, 19 :58.0. Women (4,000m): 1, College of Idaho, 24. 2, Southern Idaho, 39. 3, Northwest Nazarene, 75. 4, Eastern Oregon, 105. Top 5 Finishers: 1, Ellyse Tingelstad, COI, 13:53.5. 2, Sage Martin, COI, 13:58.0. 3, Abbey Shirts, COI, 14:03.5. 4, Elizabeth Phillips, Southern Idaho, 14:22.8. 5, Rozzlyn Cazier, Southern Idaho, 14:26.9. Top 5 GNAC Finishers: 6, Morgan Erler, NNU, 14:37.0. 15, Casey Collom, NNU, 15:21.1. 16, Olivia Klein, NNU, 15:24.4. 19, Becca Darwood, NNU, 15:35.0. 21, Jordan Gram, NNU, 15:35.2.

Pacific Lutheran Invitational (Sept. 16 at PLU Meadows, Tacoma, Wash.): Men (8,000m): 1, Simon Fraser, 46. 2, Whitworth, 88. 3, Pacific Lutheran, 96. 4, Whitman, 119. 5, Seattle Pacific, 160. 6, Central Washington, 162. 7, Puget Sound, 189. 8, Northwest, 200. 9, Pacific, 232. 10, PLU Alumni, 240. 11, Evergreen State, 282. 12, Green River Coll., 288. 13, Everett CC, 360. Top 5 Finishers: 1, Johan Correa, CWU, 24:23.7. 2, Sebastian Brinkman, SFU, 24:27.7. 3, Ephrem Mekonnen, SFU, 24:58.6. 4, Ryan Stracke, Pacific Lutheran, 25:04.1. 5, Micah Murphy, Northwest, 25:10.6. Other Top GNAC Finishers: 9, Jose Castro, SFU, 25:23.5. 13, Scott Arndt, SFU, 25:35.0. 15, Brennan LeBlanc, SPU, 25:47.5. 20, Andrew Thomson, SFU, 26:01.0. 22, Henry Ruckman-Utting, SFU, 26:06.5. Women (6,000m): 1, Simon Fraser, 27. 2, Pacific, 65. 3, Seattle Pacific, 101. 4, Whitworth, 116. 5, Trinity Western, 153. 6, Central Washington, 170. 7, Whitman, 170. 8, Puget Sound, 232. 9, Pacific Lutheran, 238. 10. Northwest, 244. 11, Green River Coll., 287. Top 5 Finishers: 1, Constance Nankivel, Trinity Western, 21:02.1. 2, Annika Esvelt, SPU, 21:41.3. 3, Rachael Watkins, SFU, 21:56.7. 4, Grace Chalk, SFU, 22:17.0. 5, Alauna Carstens, Evergreen State, 22:25.5. Other Top GNAC Finishers: 6, Kate Cameron, SFU, 22:27.6. 8, Grace Mack, SFU, 22:42.6. 9, Charlotte Prangley, SFU, 22:54.2. 11, Selin Tasdemir, SFU, 23:02.0. 12, Ella Marion, SFU, 23:12.2.