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Conference Converges On Seattle For Sundodger Invite
Central Washington's Alexa Shindruk won the SMU Tri Meet, a replacement for the smoked out CWU Apple Ridge Invitational. Photo by Paul Merca.
Central Washington's Alexa Shindruk won the SMU Tri Meet, a replacement for the smoked out CWU Apple Ridge Invitational. Photo by Paul Merca.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

TRUE NORTH RISING: While both Simon Fraser and Alaska Anchorage competed without some of its top runners at the Ash Creek Invitational, the Clan showed that they could give the Seawolves a run for the money at the GNAC Championships.

For the Simon Fraser women, it was a perfect win as the Clan put all five of its scoring runners in the top five to finish with a score of 15 points. That was 30 points better than the second place score of 45 amassed by the Seawolves.

Senior Julia Howley was named the GNAC Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week after she won the 4,200-meter race in a time of 16:24.6. Junior Addy Townsend was second in 16:38.5 and freshman Olivia Willett was third in 16:49.7.

Alaska Anchorage ran the race without defending GNAC and West Region champion Caroline Kurgat, who finished fifth at the San Francisco Invitational the week before.

On the men’s side, Simon Fraser placed four runners in the top-10 and all five scoring runners in the top-11 to win with a score of 36 points, 17 points better than the second place Seawolves. Junior Rowan Doherty led the way with his place time of 18:45.8 over 6,200 meters. Sophomore Carlos Vargas placed sixth in 19:09.1.

The four in the top-10 was enough to counter a victory by Alaska Anchorage’s Felix Kemboi. The freshman won with a time of 18:42.8 to earn GNAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week honors.

The two teams, both GNAC title contenders in both the men’s and women’s races, will not meet again until the GNAC Championships on Oct. 21.

SMOKE FROM A DISTANT FIRE: Smoke from Northwest wildfires has been an issue for Central Washington much of the summer. The poor air quality forced the school to cancel its scheduled Sept. 9 Apple Ridge Invitational in Yakima.

But rather than see a scheduled competition date smoked out, Saint Martin’s stepped in and hosted a three-way meet for the GNAC teams affected on Saturday on campus in Lacey, Wash. Western Washington won both team competitions, scoring 20 points in the women’s race and 40 points in the men’s race. Central Washington’s Alexa Shindruk was the individual winner in the women’s race in a time of 14:40 for 4,000 meters.

IN THE RANKINGS: Thanks to its win last week, Simon Fraser traded places with Alaska Anchorage in the first USTFCCCA Division II Women’s Coaches Poll of the season. The Clan jumped seven spots to No. 7 from the preseason ranking. The Seawolves dropped four spots to No. 11. Seattle Pacific received votes for the second consecutive poll.

In the men’s poll, Alaska Anchorage slipped seven spots from its initial ranking to No. 11 while Simon Fraser emerged on the poll for the first time this season at No. 17.

In the West Region Rankings, Simon Fraser leads the women’s list at No. 2. Other GNAC teams include Alaska Anchorage at No. 4, Seattle Pacific at No. 7 and Western Washington at No. 9. In the men’s rankings, Alaska Anchorage is No. 4 followed by Simon Fraser at No. 5, Western Washington at No. 8 and Western Oregon at No. 10.

BREAKING THE TAPE: Six GNAC athletes, including four women, picked up victories in races over the first two weeks of the season. Here is the complete list...

MEN
• Felix Kemboi (UAA): Ash Creek Invitational, Sept. 8 (18:42.8, 6,200 meters)
• Judd Lewis (CU): Linfield Harrier Classic, Sept. 1 (19:58.36, 6,000 meters)

WOMEN
• Alyssa Foote (SPU): Dual vs. Northwest (Wash.), Sept. 1 (17:20.95, 4,800 meters)
• Julia Howley (SFU): Ash Creek Invitational, Sept. 8 (16:24.6, 4,600 meters)
• Larissa Kolasinski (SMU): Puget Sound Invitational, Sept. 2 (23:51.00, 6,000 meters)
• Kennedy Rufener (WOU): Linfield Harrier Classic, Sept. 1 (15:21.41, 4,000 meters)
• Alexa Shindruk (CWU): SMU Tri-Meet, Sept. 9 (14:40, 4,000 meters)

THIS WEEK'S GNAC ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
MEN
Felix Kemboi, Alaska Anchorage
Freshman • Eldoret, Kenya

Kemboi won the Ash Creek Invitational on Friday at Western Oregon, covering the 6,200-meter course in a time of 18:42.8 (4:51 per mile pace). It was Kemboi’s second win in as many races to open his collegiate career. The individual performance led the Seawolves to a second place finish.

Also Nominated: Ron Leaf (Central Washington), Jose Macias (Concordia), Jorey Egeland (Montana State Billings), Rowan Doherty (Simon Fraser), Thomas Normandeau (Western Oregon), Andrew Wise (Western Washington).

WOMEN
Julia Howley, Simon Fraser
Senior • St. John’s, N.L.

Howley earned her first collegiate cross country victory at the Ash Creek Invitational, covering the 4,600-meter course in 16:24.6 (5:44 per mile pace). She led a perfect day for the Clan, who won the meet with a total of 15 points.

Also Nominated: Zennah Jepchumba (Alaska Anchorage), Alexa Shindruk (Central Washington), Sara Harrington (Concordia), Nikki Aiken (Montana State Billings) Cassie McKinnie (Western Oregon), Lilianna Stelling (Western Washington).

AROUND THE GNAC
ALASKA
LAST WEEK: No Meet
THIS WEEK: Sept. 16: at Sundodger Invitational, Seattle
• Alaska will open its 2017 season by competing in the Sundodger Invitational on Saturday in Seattle.

• The Nanooks had their unofficial start to the season last Friday with the squad’s annual Moda Health Open. Senior Alex Eckert was the top men’s finisher with a time of 16:20 for 5,000 meters. Junior Alex Bergholtz was the top women’s finisher with her time of 19:56.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
LAST WEEK: Sept. 8 as Ash Creek Invitiational
Men - 2nd of 13, 53 pts.  Women - 2nd of 12, 45 pts.
THIS WEEK: No Meet

• Alaska Anchorage ran to a pair of second place finishes in the team’s first meet of the season against GNAC competition, the Ash Creek Invitational. The Seawolves lost to Simon Fraser in both team competitions.

• Freshman Felix Kemboi was named the GNAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week after he earned his first collegiate win, covering the 6,200-meter course in 18:42.8. He finished three seconds ahead of Simon Fraser’s Rowan Doherty. Senior Edwin Kangogo placed third in 18:56.6.

• With Caroline Kurgat not competing, junior Zennah Jepchumba led the UAA women with a sixth place finish. She covered the 4,600-meter course in 16:53.8. Senior Mariah Burroughs was eighth in 16:55.3.

• Both the Seawolves’ men’s and women’s programs dropped in the first week’s USTFCCCA Division II Coaches Poll. The UAA men dropped six spots to No. 11 while the women dropped four spots to No. 11. Both teams are ranked fourth in the West Region Rankings.

• Alaska Anchorage will not compete again until Sat., Oct. 7, when they take part in the Division II Conference Crossover in Romeoville, Ill. It is the Seawolves’ last scheduled meet before the GNAC Championships.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
LAST WEEK: Sept. 9 at SMU Tri-Meet
Men - 2nd of 3, 54 pts. Women - 2nd of 3, 53 pts.
THIS WEEK: Sept. 16: at Sundodger Invitational, Seattle

• With the cancellation of CWU’s Apple Ridge Invitational due to poor air quality, the Wildcats opened the season with a pair of second place finishes in a GNAC tri-meet held on the Saint Martin’s campus.

• Junior Alexa Shindruk won her first collegiate race, covering the 4,000-meter course in 14:40. She had a 16-second cushion ahead of the No. 2 runner. Sophomore Delaney Clem placed 10th in 15:25.

• Junior Ron Leaf was the Wildcats’ top men’s finisher, covering the 6,000-meter course in 20:10 to finish seventh. The next three CWU runners placed ninth, 10th and 11th, with junior Hanson Lee leading the pack in a time of 20:12.

• The Wildcats continue the season in Seattle on Saturday, competing in the Sundodger Invitational.

CONCORDIA
LAST WEEK: Sept. 8 at Ash Creek Invitational
Men - 6th of 13, 144 pts. Women - 5th of 12, 147 pts.
THIS WEEK: Sept. 16: at Sundodger Invitational, Seattle

• The Cavaliers posted a pair of good team performances at the Ash Creek Invitational, placing fifth in the women’s competition and sixth in the men’s team race.

• Junior Jose Macias was the top placer for either Concordia team, finishing seventh in the men’s 6,200-meter race in a time of 19:09.4. He finished fifth among GNAC competitiors. Senior Judd Lewis placed 20th in 19:32.6, one week after he won the Linfield Harrier Classic.

• Senior Sara Harrington was the top placer for the Concordia women, finsihing 25th as she covered the 4,600-meter course in 17:39.8. Sophomore Bailey Fjelstul was 29th in 17:41.2.

• Concordia is one of two GNAC teams that will have raced in meets in each of the first three weeks of the season. The Cavaliers will compete at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle on Saturday before taking next weekend off.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
LAST WEEK: Sept. 8: Gage McSpadden Invitational
Men - 3rd of 4, 58 pts. Women - 3rd of 3, 73 pts.
THIS WEEK: Sept. 16: at MSU-Bozeman Running Co. Invitational, Bozeman, Mont.

• Montana State Billings opened the season with a pair of third place finishes at the Gage McSpadden Memorial Invitational in Spearfish, S.D. The Yellowjackets’ women scored 58 points while the women scored 73 points.

• Senior Jorey Egeland started his season off well, placing second in the men’s 6,000-meter race in a time of 18:37.8. He was 13 seconds behind the winner, Ayrton Ledesma of Gillette CC. Junior Tyus Mendoza placed seventh in a time of 19:24.7.

• Sophomore Nikki Aiken was the Yellowjackets’ top women’s finisher, placing sixth as she covered the 4,300-meter course in 16:41.5. Senior Bailey Bomar was 14th in 17:48.5.

• Like last season, Montana State Billings will not race against GNAC competition until the GNAC Championships on Oct. 21. The Yellowjackets return to the course on Saturday at the MSU-Bozeman Running Co. Invitational in nearby Bozeman, Mont.

• The Yellowjackets begin life under first year head coach Jonathan Woehl, who was promoted after two seasons as the program’s assistant coach. He succeeds Dave Coppock, who retired in May after 28 years leading the MSUB program.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
LAST WEEK: No Meet
THIS WEEK: No Meet

• Northwest Nazarene opens its 2017 season on Sat., Sept. 16, competing in the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle.

SAINT MARTIN’S
LAST WEEK: Sept. 9 at SMU Tri Meet
Men - 3rd of 3, 170 pts. Women - 3rd of 3, 98 pts.
THIS WEEK: No Meet

• Saint Martin’s stepped in to help out GNAC teams after the cancellation of the CWU Apple Ridge Invitational, hosting Central Washington and Western Washington for a three-way meet on the Saint Martin’s campus.

• Junior Larissa Kolasinski placed 12th in the women’s 4,000-meter race a week after she won the season-opening Puget Sound Invitational. She finished in a time of 15:28. Junior Lindsey Dorsey placed 16th in 16:00.

• Senior Josh Hunt was the Saints’ top men’s finisher for the second week in a row, placing 15th in the 6,000-meter race in a time of 20:24.

• Saint Martin’s will not compete this weekend. The Saints race again on Sat., Sept. 23, hosting the SMU Invitational on campus. The Saints will finish the month of September without having to travel more than 45 minutes to race.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
LAST WEEK: No Meet
THIS WEEK: Sept. 16: at Sundodger Invitational, Seattle

• Seattle Pacific did not compete last weekend. The Falcons stay close to home for their next week, competing in the Sundodger Invitational on Saturday.

• The Falcons started the season with a dual meet against Northwest (Wash.) on Sept. 1. Sophomore Alyssa Foote won the women’s 4,800-meter race in a time of 17:20.95. Senior Ben Halladay was the top Seattle Pacific men’s finisher, placing second in the 7,200-meter race in a time of 23:01.10.

• The Seattle Pacific women remained among teams receiving votes in the USTFCCCA Division II Coaches Poll with one point. The Falcons are ranked No. 7 in the USTFCCCA’s West Region Rankings.

SIMON FRASER
LAST WEEK: Sept. 8: Ash Creek Invitational
Men - 1st of 13, 36 pts. Women - 1st of 12, 15 pts.
THIS WEEK: Sept. 16: at Sundodger Invitational, Seattle; at Pinetree Classic, Coquitlam, B.C.

• Simon Fraser put together a pair of great team performances to win both the men’s and women’s titles at the Ash Creek Invitational, beating Alaska Anchorage in both competitions.

• The SFU women finished with a perfect score of 15 points. Senior Julia Howley was named the GNAC Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week as she covered the 4,600-meter course in 16:24.6. Junior Addy Townsend was second in 16:38.5 while freshman Olivia Willsett was third in 16:49.7. There was a total of a 29-second gap between first and fifth place.

• Junior Rowan Doherty finished second in the men’s 6,200-meter race in a time of 18:45.8, just three seconds behind champion Felix Kemboi of UAA. Sophomore Carlos Vargas was sixth in 19:09.1 and junior Sean Miller was eighth in 19:10.9.

• With the wins, Simon Fraser moved up in both USTFCCCA Division II polls. The women jumped seven spots to No. 7 while the men appeared on the poll for the first time this season at No. 17. The SFU women are No. 2 in the West Region Rankings while the men are No. 5.

• Simon Fraser will race a split squad this weekend. The Clan’s top athletes will be in Seattle for the Sundodger Invitational. Remaining SFU athletes will be at the Pinetree Classic in Coquitlam, B.C.

WESTERN OREGON
LAST WEEK: Sept. 8: Ash Creek Invitational
Men - 3rd of 13, 97 pts. Women - 9th of 12, 226 pts.
THIS WEEK: Sept. 16: at Sundodger Invitational, Seattle

• Western Oregon gave teams a preview of the course for November’s NCAA Division II West Regional Championships with the Ash Creek Invitational.

• Despite holding out many of the team’s top runners, the WOU men placed third with a score of 97 points. Junior Thomas Normandeau was the Wolves’ top finisher, placing 10th over the 6,200-meter couse in a time of 19:18.5. Senior Parker Marson placed 21st in 19:35.7.

• Sophomore Cassie McKinney was top finisher for the Western Oregon women, placing 33rd on the 4,200-meter course in 17:52.3.

• Instead of racing on the home course, senior David Ribich was enlisted to do video interviews of the race winners. The short interviews were posted on the GNAC Twitter feed.

• Western Oregon’s men earned the Wolves’ first USTFCCCA West Region ranking of the season, opening up at No. 10.

• Western Oregon is racing in each of the first four weeks of the season. The Wolves will be among seven GNAC teams competing this Saturday at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
LAST WEEK: Sept. 9: at SMU Tri Meet
Men - 1st of 3, 40 pts. Women - 1st of 3, 20 pts.
THIS WEEK: Sept. 16: at Sundodger Invitational, Seattle

• Western Washington collected team titles in both the men’s and women’s races at the SMU Three-Way Meet on the Saint Martin’s campus.

• The Vikings’ women were one place away from a perfect score, with Vikings canvassing second through ninth place. Senior Lillianna Stelling placed second in 14:56 while senior Alexandra Laiblin and freshman Jane Barr placed third and fourth, both clocking 14:57 over 4,000 meters. Sophomore Sophia Galvez was fifth and senior Maddy Hutchison was sixth to round out the scoring five.

• Senior Andrew Wise led WWU in the men’s 6,000-meter race, placing third in a time of 19:53. Junior Dylan Hayes was fifth in 20:03 and freshman Eric Hamel placed sixth in 20:06 to round out the Vikings’ runners in the top-10.

• The Vikings maintained positions in both of the USTFCCCA West Region Rankings. The women remained unchanged at No. 9 while the men dropped on spot to No. 8.

• Western Washington will be back in competition at the Sundodger Invitational on Saturday in Seattle.

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