GNAC XC On Full Display Ahead of Championships
NNU's Morgan Erler is coming off a victory at the Whitman Invitational last week.
NNU's Morgan Erler is coming off a victory at the Whitman Invitational last week.

Thursday, October 5, 2023
by Evan O'Kelly

PORTLAND, Ore. – All 10 Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross country programs will be in action this weekend as teams take to the course for the final time before the upcoming GNAC Cross Country Championships.

Three meets on Friday and two on Saturday in five different states comprise this week’s competition schedule, which will be the final action for all but two teams prior to the conference meet on Oct. 21 in Anchorage, Alaska.

GNAC Cross Country Schedule - Oct. 6-7
Date Meet Location Start Time GNAC Teams Competing
10/6 Yellowjacket/Battlin' Bear Open Billings, Mont. 11 a.m. (MDT) MSUB
10/6 Steve T. Reeder Memorial Logan, Utah 3 p.m. (MDT) NNU
10/6 San Francisco State Invitational San Francisco, Calif. 4:15 p.m. (PDT) UAF, SFU, WOU
10/7 Lewis Crossover Romeoville, Ill. 9:45 a.m. (CDT) UAA, SMU, WWU
10/7 Emerald City Open Seattle, Wash. 10 a.m. (PDT) CWU, SPU, WWU

This Week's Storylines

MADNESS IN ROMEOVILLE: Saturday’s Lewis Crossover will provide three GNAC teams with some of their toughest competition of the 2023 season. Last year’s event featured 20 teams including 188 women’s runners and 213 men’s runners, with Western Washington being the lone GNAC team to compete and placing third. This year, the Vikings are headed back alongside Alaska Anchorage and Saint Martin’s for the headline meet.

WASHINGTONIANS STAY CLOSE TO HOME: Seattle Pacific will race in its home city on Saturday, along with two other local GNAC teams at the Emerald City Open. Central Washington will also compete in the meet, and Western Washington will send a group of competitors down south from Bellingham as well.

BAY AREA BECKONS: Three conference teams are headed to San Francisco on Friday afternoon for the SF State Invitational. Alaska will be joined by Simon Fraser and Western Oregon to compete at an event that featured 11 teams a season ago. Simon Fraser is the lone GNAC team to race in the meet for the second straight season, with the Red Leaf men claiming the team title last year.

‘JACKETS, NIGHTHAWKS ON MOUNTAIN TIME: Montana State Billings will kick off the busy week of competition on Friday morning, hosting the Yellowjacket/Battlin’ Bear Open at 11 a.m. (MDT). Northwest Nazarene meanwhile heads south to Logan, Utah for the Steve T. Reeder Memorial Invitational meet with first gun set for 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon. It will be the final competition for both teams prior to the conference championship race.

Northwest Nazarene was the lone GNAC team to compete last week, and is coming off a successful showing at the Whitman College Invitational. Morgan Erler claimed the women’s title in the 6k race with a time of 21:45.6, while Casey Collom was close behind in fourth with a time of 23:09.3. On the men’s side, sophomore Brody Kemble kept up his momentum with a fourth-place finish in the 8k (24:40.1). The Nighthawk women placed second while the men took fourth.

Runner to Watch

Mia Crocker – Western Washington

An important component to the reigning conference champions’ lineup, sophomore Mia Crocker has performed well in her first two races of 2023. She started with a third-place finish at the Puget Sound Invitational on Sept. 2, running a collegiate-best 5k time of 18:14.9. The Sammamish, Wash., native followed that with a 14th-place finish at the Bill Roe Classic, clocking a 6k time of 22:24.7. An all-conference performer in 2022, Crocker finished seventh at last year’s GNAC Championships before placing 22nd at the NCAA Division II West Region Championships. Look for Crocker to be a key contender both this week and in her second conference meet in Anchorage in two weeks.

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 Oct. 10.

The Western Washington men slipped one spot to No. 11 in the latest national poll, and fell one spot to No. 3 in the latest regional rankings. The Alaska Anchorage men cracked into the top-30 for the first time this season, and remained at No. 5 in the latest regional rankings. Simon Fraser’s men and Western Oregon’s men remained at No. 8 and No. 10, respectively in the regional rankings.

Despite remaining tacet last week, the Western Washington women climbed one spot to No. 27 in the national poll, matching their highest ranking of 2023. In the regional rankings, WWU jumped to No. 4 while Saint Martin’s (7th), Alaska (8th), and Simon Fraser (9th) held firm. The GNAC was the west region leader with five of the 10 regionally ranked women’s teams, with three PacWest Conference teams ranked and two CCAA teams ranked.

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 -- 
Week 3 10. WWU RV UAA
Week 4 11. WWU 30. UAA


USTFCCCA National Rankings - Women's Cross Country
Poll Team 1  
Preseason --  
Week 1 29. WWU  
Week 2 27. WWU  
Week 3 28. WWU  
Week 4 27. WWU  


USTFCCCA West Region Rankings - Men's Cross Country
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
Preseason 2. WWU 5. SFU 8. UAA --
Week 1 2. WWU 5. SFU 8. UAA --
Week 2 2. WWU 6. SFU 8. UAA --
Week 3 2. WWU 5. UAA 8. SFU 10. WOU
Week 4 3. WWU 5. UAA 8. SFU 10. WOU


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
Week 3 5. WWU 7. SMU 8. UAF 9. SFU
Week 4 4. WWU 7. SMU 8. UAF 9. SFU

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. 25 Caitlin Heldt, Western Oregon Coleman Nash, Alaska Anchorage
Oct. 2 None Selected None Selected


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
9/22 Mike Johnson Classic Caitlin Heldt Western Oregon 6k 21:15.0
9/30 Whitman College Invitational Morgan Erler Northwest Nazarene 6k 21:45.6


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
9/22 Mike Johnson Classic Kanoa Blake Western Oregon 8k 24:42.7
9/23 Bill Roe Classic Coleman Nash Alaska Anchorage 8k 24:41.7

2023 GNAC Cross Country Women's Race Winners

Last Week's GNAC Results

Whitman Invitational (Sept. 30 at Veterans Memorial Golf Course, Walla Walla, Wash.): Men (8,000m): 1, Gonzaga, 19. 2, Whitworth, 82. 3, Washington State, 83. 4, Northwest Nazarene, 88. 5, Whitman, 120. 6, Puget Sound, 157. 7, Lewis-Clark State, 206. Top 5 Finishers: 1, Logan Law, Gonzaga (Unat.), 24:33.6. 2, Ansel Tucker, Gonzaga, 24:35.6. 3, Sawyer Clarkson, Gonzaga (Unat.), 24:36.5. 4, Brody Kemble, NNU, 24:40.1. 5, Nicola DiMartino, Gonzaga, 24:40.5. Other Top GNAC Finishers: 22, Ian Stockett, NNU, 25:30.8. 38, Aaron Heberlein, NNU, 26:18.0. 39, Quincy Ellis, NNU, 26:20.2. 42, Carter Stedman, NNU, 26:34.7. 55, Micah Chi, NNU, 26 :56.6. Women (6,000m): 1, Eastern Washington, 39. 2, Northwest Nazarene, 41. 3, Whitworth, 49. 4, Whitman, 92. 5, Lewis-Clark State, 119. Top 5 Finishers: 1, Morgan Erler, NNU, 21:45.6. 2, Lily Jones, Whitworth, 22:53.5. 3, Maddie Drennen, Eastern Washington, 22:58.1. 4, Casey Collom, NNU, 23:09.3. 5, Madelyn Buckley, Whitworth, 23:13.9. Other Top GNAC Finishers: 11, Keelin Stewart, NNU, 23:38.9. 12, Olivia Klein, NNU, 23:40.9. 16, Becca Darwood, NNU, 23:58.9. 36, Joan Woods, NNU, 26:45.4.