Title Sweep Runs UAA To Team of the Week Honors
UAA's Henry Cheseto and Joyce Chelimo each won the individual titles at the GNAC Cross Country Championships.
UAA's Henry Cheseto and Joyce Chelimo each won the individual titles at the GNAC Cross Country Championships.

Monday, October 26, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. – Six straight GNAC titles for the men, seven of eight for the women. Alaska Anchorage’s cross country team continues to rule the conference, earning the Red Lion Team of the Week award with another standout performance at Saturday’s GNAC Cross Country Championships.

“We are very pleased with the level of achievement we have had up to now,” said head coach Michael Friess. “We will take the recognition, put it in our back pocket and hope it will help motivate us later on.”

Sophomore Henry Cheseto won his second GNAC Championship in as many years for the Seawolves’ men’s team in a time of 24:22.70. Junior Joyce Chelimo took the individual title for the women’s team, finishing the 6,000-meter course in 21:00.90. By winning their respective races, Cheseto and Chelimo were named GNAC Athletes of the Year.

“I want to thank Western Washington and the GNAC office in general,” said Friess. “The meet was extremely well run with all the attributes they put in for the athletes. It was certainly representative of the competition, which was very high for both the men and women. There were not a lot of differences between the top teams.”

The men were just short of repeating their record-low team performance from last year’s conference meet, placing all five scoring runners in the top-10 to finish with 21 points. Dominik Notz and Edwin Kangogo placed second and third respectively. Victor Samoei finished sixth and Nathan Kipchumba took ninth place. All four earned All-GNAC honors.

On the women’s side, the Seawolves took the top-two spots with Chelimo and Caroline Kurgat. Kimberly Cosica placed ninth overall and was named the GNAC Freshman of the Year as the top-placing freshman. The Seawolves finished with 39 team points as all five scoring runners placed in the top-15. Chelimo, Kurgat and Cosica were also All-GNAC honorees.

In both races, Cheseto and Chelimo stayed with the front pack in the early going. By the final stretches, they had both pulled out well in front to cruise to the individual titles.

The teams will both compete at the NCAA West Regional Championships on Saturday, Nov. 7 in Monmouth, Ore. The race will take place on Western Oregon’s Ash Creek Preserve and will include every GNAC squad along with teams from the PacWest Conference and the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

“You have to consider the regional meet as a semifinal,” said Friess. “You are trying to run well, but not necessarily at your best. There is going to be a team that is considered a top-25 team that won’t make the national championships. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”

The NCAA National Championships are on Saturday, Nov. 21 in Joplin, Mo. The top-five women’s teams and the top-four men’s teams from the regional championships will be invited.