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Freshmen Fuel The Surge As Cross Country Season Begins
Last week's GNAC race winners were Alaska's Naomi Bailey, Alaska Anchorage's Coleman Nash and Martin's Sara Sabra and Kainalu Pagente. UAA/UAF photos by Miles Jordan. SMU photos by Keith Oslin.
Last week's GNAC race winners were Alaska's Naomi Bailey, Alaska Anchorage's Coleman Nash and Martin's Sara Sabra and Kainalu Pagente. UAA/UAF photos by Miles Jordan. SMU photos by Keith Oslin.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

FIRST-YEAR RUNNERS STEP UP: Over the first two weeks of the GNAC cross country, six different athletes have won races. In every case, freshmen have been the winners.

Alaska Anchorage freshman Coleman Nash leads the list having won both of his first two collegiate competitions. At the August 28 UAF Blue/Gold Race, Nash cruised to the win with a time of 22:53 over 6,000 meters. Racing two kilometers more last Saturday at the Seawolf Throwdown in Anchorage, Nash was the winner again as he ran a time of 26:18.4.

On the women’s side of those races, it was Alaska's freshmen that stepped up for the victories. Kendall Kramer was the winner at the UAF Blue/Gold Meet in a time of 18:34 over 4,000 meters. The next week, it was Naomi Bailey’s turn to win as she covered the 6,000-meter course in 22:37.8 to post an impressive 45-second victory.

In both cases, the victories helped the Nanooks to women’s team victories over the Seawolves. At the UAF Blue/Gold Meet, Alaska scored 17 points to beat UAA by 21 points. At the Seawolf Throwdown, the Nanooks’ 23 points was 11 points better than the Seawolves.

At Saturday’s Puget Sound Invitational, a pair of Saint Martin’s freshmen took home the top honors. Kainalu Pagente was a two-second winner in the men’s 6,000-meter race with a time of 19:03. Sara Sabra posted an 11-seconds victory in the women’s 4,000-meter race in a time of 15:35.

WINNER’S CIRCLE: The following GNAC athletes have picked up cross country victories during the 2021 season...

MEN
Coleman Nash, UAA (UAF Blue/Gold Race, Aug. 28, 22:53, 6,000m)
Coleman Nash, UAA (Seawolf Throwdown, Sept. 4, 26:18.4, 8,000m)
Kainalu Pagente, SMU (Puget Sound Invitational, Sept. 4, 19:03, 6,000m)

WOMEN
Kendall Kramer, UAF (UAF Blue/Gold Race, Aug. 28, 18:34, 5,000m)
Naomi Bailey, UAF (Seawolf Throwdown, Sept. 4, 22:37.8, 6,000m)
Sara Sabra, SMU (Puget Sound Invitational, Sept. 4, 15:35, 4,000m)

THIS WEEK'S GNAC CROSS COUNTRY ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
MEN
Kainalu Pagente, Saint Martin’s
Freshman • Mililani, Hawaii

Pagente opened his collegiate career in winning style, taking the individual title at the Puget Sound Invitational on Saturday. He covered the 6,000-meter course in 19:03, averaging 5:07 per mile, to finish two seconds ahead of Green River Community College’s Cayan Dibble. Pagente led Saint Martin’s to the team title with 42 points.

Also Nominated: Coleman Nash (Alaska Anchorage).

WOMEN
Naomi Bailey, Alaska
Freshman • Fairbanks, Alaska

Bailey was the individual winner at the Seawolf Throwdown on Saturday in Anchorage, covering the 6,000-meter course in a time of 22:37.8. She averaged 6:04 per mile and won by an impressive 45 seconds over teammate Rosie Fordham. For the second week in a row, the Nanooks won the team title by 11 points over Alaska Anchorage with 23 points.

Also Nominated: Sara Sabra (Saint Martin’s), Katie Chapman (Western Oregon).

AROUND THE GNAC
ALASKA
• For the second time in as many weeks, Alaska dueled against Alaska Anchorage. This time, the two teams ran in the Seawolf Throwdown in Anchorage’s Kincaid Park.

• For the second time this season, Alaska captured the women’s team title with a score of 23 points, 11 better than UAA. The Nanooks’ men placed second with 18 points.

• Freshman Naomi Bailey was named the GNAC Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week after winning the 6,000-meter race in a time of 22:37.8. She was 45 seconds ahead of freshman teammate Rosie Fordham, who finished second for the second straight week.

• Junior Mike Ophoff was the Nanook’s lead runner in the men’s race, finishing third in a time of 26:42.2. He was the only UAF runner in the top-six.

• After two straight weeks of racing, Alaska is off until Friday, September 24, when the teams will take part in the Mike Johnson Classic in Monmouth, Oregon.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
• Racing in its second meet of the season, Alaska Anchorage captured the men’s team title and placed second in the women’s race in its own Seawolf Throwdown at Kincaid Park.

• For the second straight week, freshman Coleman Nash was the winner in the men’s race as he covered the 8,000-meter course in a time of 26:18.4. He was nine seconds faster than junior Jacob Moos, who was second in 26:27.9.

• Senior Nancy Jeptoo led the Seawolves’ women, covering the 6,000-meter distance in a time of 24:334.2 to place third. Junior Alfin Nyamasyo was fifth in a time of 26:00.9.

• Alaska Anchorage’s women open the season ranked No. 27 in the USTFCCCA Division II Preseason Coaches Poll. The women are ranked seventh in the West Region while the men are ranked ninth.

• After two races in two weeks, the Seawolves will take a long break from competition. The teams compete next on Saturday, October 2, at the Chambers Bay Collegiate Open in University Place, Washington.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington will open its 2021 season this weekend, hosting the CWU Invitational on Saturday in Yakima.

• The Wildcats’ men were picked to finish sixth in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving one first-place vote. The CWU women are picked to finish seventh.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings does not open its season until Friday, September 17, when the teams compete in the Gage McSpadden Memorial in Spearfish, South Dakota.

• The MSUB men are picked to finish eighth in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll. The women are picked to finish 10th.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene canceled its scheduled trip last Friday to the College of Southern Idaho Invitational. The Nighthawks will now open the 2021 season on Friday, September 17, at the Eastern Oregon Invitational in La Grande.

• The NNU men are picked to finish fourth in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll. The Nighthawks’ women were picked fifth, receiving one first-place vote. The women are ranked No. 7 in the preseason USTFCCCA West Region Rankings.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s started the 2021 season off in grand style, taking two individual victories and the men’s team title at Saturday’s Puget Sound Invitational in Lakewood, Washington.

• The Saints’ men won with a score of 42 points, finishing 15 points ahead of second-place Pacific Lutheran. The SMU women placed second with 44 points.

• Freshman Kainalu Pagente was named the GNAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week after he won the 6,000-meter race in a time of 19:05. He was two seconds ahead of second-place Cayan Dibble of Green River Community College. Junior John Farrell took third in a time of 19:12.

• Freshman Sara Sabra took home the women’s title as she covered the 4,000-meter course in a time of 15:35. She was 11 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, Jasmine Davis of Pierce Community College. Freshman Ali Saucedo was third in a time of 16:09.

• Saint Martin’s will not compete again until Saturday, September 25, when it hosts the Ken Garland Invitational on the SMU campus in Lacey, Washington.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• The Seattle Pacific men opened the 2021 season with a fourth-place finish at the Puget Sound Invitational in Lakewood, Washington.

• The Falcons posted a team score of 89 points. Senior Colin Boutin led the way, placing eighth in a time of 19:34. Redshirt freshman Jon Owen placed 16th in a time of 20:10.0.

• The race was scheduled to be the start of the season as well for the Seattle Pacific women but elected not to compete after injuries left the Falcons without a full team.

• The Seattle Pacific women were ranked No. 21 in the USTFCCCA Preseason Division II Coaches Poll. The Falcons are ranked No. 5 in the West Region.

• Both the SPU men and women are scheduled to travel to Monmouth, Oregon this Friday to compete in the Ash Creek Invitational.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser will open the 2021 season on Friday, competing in the SF State Invitational at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

• Both the Simon Fraser men and women are picked to finish second in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll. The SFU women received four first-place votes and finished one point behind favorite Western Washington. The SFU men received three first-place votes.

• The Simon Fraser women are ranked No. 11 in the USTFCCCA Division II Preseason Coaches Poll and No. 2 in the West Region Rankings.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon’s women opened the 2021 season last Friday, competing in the Linfield Harrier Classic at Joe Dancer Park in McMinnville, Oregon.

• Freshman Katie Chapman opened her collegiate career in solid style, placing second as she covered the 4,000-meter course in a time of 15:14.5. She led Western Oregon to a second-place team finish with 47 points.

• Freshman Emily Johnson posted the Wolves’ other top-10 finish, placing ninth in a time of 17:15.5.

• Western Oregon will host the first of three collegiate meets on its Ash Creek Preserve course this Friday. The Ash Creek Invitational begins at 5:15 p.m.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington opens the 2021 season this Saturday, competing in the CWU Invitational in Yakima, Washington.

• The Vikings are the defending men’s and women’s champions are having won the 2019 GNAC Championships. Western Washington’s men are picked to repeat in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving four first-place votes and 82 total points. The WWU women are picked fourth with 65 points and received two first-place votes.

• The WWU men entered the season ranked No. 24 in the USTFCCCA Preseason Division II Coaches Poll and No. 4 in the West Region Rankings. The Vikings’ women are eighth in the West Region Rankings.

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