Two Race Wins Pace Simon Fraser To Team Of The Week
The Simon Fraser cross country program was named GNAC Team of the Week after both their men's and women's teams won races.
The Simon Fraser cross country program was named GNAC Team of the Week after both their men's and women's teams won races.

Monday, September 13, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – Competing in their first meet since 2019, Simon Fraser Cross Country announced themselves with authority at the San Francisco State Invitational on Friday, going up against several other schools – including Division I competition – and winning the individual men’s and women’s races, women’s team crown and now the GNAC Team of the Week Award.

The highlight was individual race wins for seniors Aaron Ahl, who bested a field of 115 other runners to take the men’s 8K with a time of 24:30.6, and Olivia Willett, who finished first in the 104-woman 6K with a time of 21:57.6. Ahl and Willett took home the GNAC Player of the Week Awards for men’s and women’s cross country.

Depth was also on display, as both the men’s and women’s programs placed five runners in the top-20 in their respective races.

“The athletes were so motivated to succeed and I told them to take advantage of this opportunity to confirm where we should be in the NCAA rankings,” head coach Brit Townsend said. “We really wanted to have early success to give us momentum into the season.”

The women’s team dominated the field on their way to the team competition victory. Behind Willett, senior Alison Andrews-Paul finished fifth in 22:10, junior Megan Roxby’s 22:13 was good enough for seventh, and sophomore Grace Chalk followed in eighth with a time of 22:16. Junior Clare Noort rounded out the top-five counted for the team competition, finishing in 19th with a time of 22:45.

Simon Fraser’s underclassmen also flashed their future potential. Freshman Ella Marion ran 22:57 to finish 23rd, while junior Emily Chilton and freshmen Milena Kalisch and Kate Cameron all crossed at the 23-minute mark, going into the books as 25th, 26th and 27th place. None of SFU’s nine runners finished lower than 27th out of 104 entrants. Simon Fraser’s team score of 36 easily bested the 60 of second-place Chico State.

The men’s race was a runaway victory for Ahl, who finished over seven seconds ahead of the next runner, and the rest of the men’s team put on a strong showing at the championship distance of eight kilometers behind the senior from Calgary.

Sophomore Charlie Dannatt was the second Simon Fraser athlete to cross, coming in eighth with a time of 25:03. Freshman Scott Arndt ran a 25:20 in his debut collegiate race, putting him in 11th place. Junior Sebastian Brinkman and Sophomore Ephrem Mekonnen finished in identical 25:37.8 times for 16th and 17th. The men finished with a team score of 49, good for second place.

“We have some great leaders on both sides,” Townsend said. “With Aaron and Charlie on the men’s side and the senior leadership of Olivia and Alison on the women’s side, they really set the tone for our entire group, keeping everyone focused.”

The races featured rostered athletes from Division I West Coast Conference schools Saint Mary’s (Calif.) and Santa Clara, as well as Mountain West Conference school San Jose State.

Next up, the team will participate in the Mike Johnson Classic in Monmouth, Oregon on September 24.