Simply Dominant: Kurgat Wins NCAA Women's XC Title
Alaska Anchorage's Caroline Kurgat (far left) and Simon Fraser's Julia Howley (far right) both had top-15 finishes. Photo courtesy of the RMAC.
Alaska Anchorage's Caroline Kurgat (far left) and Simon Fraser's Julia Howley (far right) both had top-15 finishes. Photo courtesy of the RMAC.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Alaska Anchorage’s Caroline Kurgat proved without a doubt that she is the best women’s cross country runner in Division II.

After winning the GNAC Championships by 56 seconds and the West Region Championships by 36 seconds, the senior completed the title trifecta by winning the NCAA Division II Women’s Cross Country Championships, held Nov. 18 at Angel Mounds.

Kurgat covered the 6,000-meter course in 20 minutes, 32.3 seconds to finish 20 seconds ahead of second place Sarah Berger of Walsh. The dominant performance gave the Seawolves their second cross country individual national champion and the first in women’s program history. She joins Micah Chelimo as UAA individual champions. He was the 2012 Division II men’s national champion.

Kurgat is the second GNAC athlete to win the NCAA Division II women’s national championship. Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler did it twice, taking the trophy in 2008 and 2009. Kurgat finishes her cross country career as a three-time All-American, having placed sixth in 2015 and third in 2016.

The victory for Kurgat, combined with a 32nd place All-American finish for Zennah Jepchumba, led Alaska Anchorage to a fifth-place finish in a tight team competition with 180 points. The Seawolves placed one point behind Chico State in a competition that saw three of the top-five teams come out of the West Region. Alaska Anchorage finished eighth each of the last two years.

Simon Fraser gave the GNAC a second top-10 team as the Clan finished in 10th place with 332 points. Julia Howley earned her second All-American trophy, placing 15th in a time of 21:21.0. She was joined by Clan teammate Miryam Bassett, who was 24th in a time of 21:30.3. Julia’s performance is the second best in the Clan’s Division II history behind Lindsey Butterworth’s 12th place finish in 2012.

Jepchumba earned her first All-American trophy as she placed 32nd with a time of 21:38.6. Emmah Chelimo and Danielle McCormick just missed trophies with Chelimo placing 44th in 21:48.4 and McCormick placing 45th in 21:49.9.

Adams State swept the men’s and women’s team title, returning to the top of the podium for the first time since 2015 with a score of 126 points. Mary placed second with 137 points and Cal Baptist was third with 148 points.

at Angel Mounds, Evansville, Indiana

Women’s Team Scores (Top 10 Plus GNAC): Adams State 126, Mary 137, Cal Baptist 148, Chico State 179, Alaska Anchorage 180, Grand Valley State 185, Hillsdale 279, Cal St. San Marcos 288, Western State 331, Simon Fraser 332.

Top 10 Finishers: 1, Caroline Kurgat, Alaska Anchorage, 20:32.3. 2, Sarah Berger, Walsh, 20:52.1. Natalie Rodriguez, Cal St. San Marcos, 20:53.7. 4, Hannah McIntyre, Hillsdale, 20:54.6. 5, Emeline Delanis, Cal Baptist, 20:57.6. 6, Kelly Haubert, Grand Valley St., 21:05.1. 7, Aneta Konieczek, Western State, 21:07.4. 8, Colett Rampf, Saint Leo, 21:08.1. 9, Elilish Flanagan, Adams State 21:08.2. 10, Sasha Hovind, Northern State, 21:08.7.

Other GNAC All-Americans (Top 40): 16, Julia Howley, Simon Fraser, 21:21.0. 24, Miryam Bassett, Simon Fraser, 21:30.3. 32, Zennah Jepchumba, Alaska Anchorage, 21:38.6.

Other GNAC Finishers: 44, Emmah Chelimo, UAA, 21:48.4. 45, Danielle McCormick, UAA, 21:49.9. 66, Olivia Willett, SFU, 22:07.2. 81, Mariah Burroughs, UAA, 22:18.9. 97, Kennedy Rufener, WOU, 22:27.2. 106, Tamara Perez, UAA, 22:33.7. 108, Kimberly Coscia, UAA, 22:33.9. 1356, Chelsea Ribiero, SFU, 22:55.5. 148, Sophie Dodd, SFU, 23:01.5. 176, Paige Nock, SFU, 23:17.8. 215, Calli Charlton, SFU, 24:03.6.

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