GNAC Insider Gets Prepared For Championship Season
Western Washington will host the 2016 GNAC Championships for the second consecutive year.
Western Washington will host the 2016 GNAC Championships for the second consecutive year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

PORTLAND  – The cross country GNAC Championships will be held this weekend in Bellingham, Wash., starting the 2016 championship season for fall sports. Joining GNAC Insider to preview the event was Western Washington head coach Pee Wee Halsell as the show aired live at 7 p.m. Pacific on Tuesday. The show also featured Alaska Anchorage volleyball middle blocker Erin Braun and Humboldt State Athletic Director Dan Collen.

Halsell is in his 30th season as the head coach at Western Washington. Earlier this year, both his men’s and women’s cross country teams took first place in the Central Washington Invite to start the season. They followed up that effort with second-place finishes at Saint Martin’s. Last week, the Vikings had a chance to preview their home course where the GNAC Championships will be held, hosting the 43rd WWU Classic. The men took fourth place, paced by Isaac Derline, the men’s individual winner. The women took seventh place and placed two runners in the top 20.

Braun has been a key part in the Seawolves record-breaking season at middle blocker. Braun has a team-best 86 blocks this year ranking third in the conference. Alaska Anchorage has won 19 consecutive matches this year, crushing the previous school record of 15. This week, UAA has a pair of tough tests at home hosting nationally-ranked No. 19 Western Washington and Simon Fraser, which is tied for third in the GNAC standings.

Collen is in his 15th and final year as the athletic director of Humboldt State. The former volleyball coach plans to retire later this fall, following an impressive tenure with the Lumberjacks. Among his many accomplishments, Collen has helped build the Humboldt State football team into one of the best programs in the GNAC. In 2006, Collen hired former Western Washington head coach Rob Smith to take the helm for the Lumberjacks. After going 2-9 in Smith’s first season, he turned the program around and five years later, HSU won the GNAC title. Last year, Humboldt State returned to the playoffs in football for the first time since 1968. This week, the Jacks will play at Western Oregon in a nationally-televised game on American Sports Network.