Alaska Anchorage XC Teams Ranked In Preseason Top-10
Both Alaska Anchorage's men's and women's cross country teams are picked to repeat as conference champions in 2017. Photo by Nick Danielson.
Both Alaska Anchorage's men's and women's cross country teams are picked to repeat as conference champions in 2017. Photo by Nick Danielson.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

NEW ORLEANS – The GNAC’s defending team cross country champions will open the season ranked among the top-10 teams in the U.S. Track and Field & Cross Country Association’s (USTFCCCA) Division II Preseason Polls, released on Wednesday.

Both Alaska Anchorage’s men and women garnered top-tier rankings to open the season. The Seawolves’ men are ranked fifth while the UAA women are ranked seventh.

Simon Fraser’s women’s team was the only other GNAC squad to earn a spot in the top-25, opening the season at No. 14. Seattle Pacific’s women and Western Washington’s men each picked up two points to be among teams receiving votes.

Adams State earned all eight first place votes in the men’s preseason poll to lead with 200 points. Alaska Anchorage was the second ranked West Region, trailing No. 4 Chico State. Grand Valley State leads the women’s preseason with seven first place votes with 199 points. Like the men, UAA trails only Chico State (No. 5) among West Region teams.

Picked by coaches to repeat as GNAC champion earlier this week, Alaska Anchorage’s men have won every men’s cross country and track and field team title since the start of the 2015-16 season. At the 2016 GNAC Championships, the Seawolves placed three runners in the top-10 and all five scoring runners in the top-15 to finish with 31 points, which was 29 points better than second place Simon Fraser. Kangogo and Michael Ramirez ran a strategic race up front with Kangogo (24:54.80 for 8,000 meters) claiming his first GNAC individual title. Cheseto, who has won the meet each of his first two years, placed fourth (25:19.20).

The Seawolves went on to finish second at the NCAA West Regional and fifth at the NCAA Championships, the team’s second consecutive top-five finish and their seventh straight top-10 finish. Alaska Anchorage’s cadre of high-powered returners includes senior Nathan Kipchumba, who placed 15th at the GNAC meet, and senior Justin Carrancho, who placed 21st.

Alaska Anchorage’s women also were picked to repeat by league coaches. The Seawolves placed three runners in the top-10 and closed the deal with their next three athletes taking 14th, 15th and 16th place. The surge was enough to hold off a Clan squad that placed four runners in the top-13.

Kurgat will be the athlete to beat in both the GNAC and the West Region. The defending champion in both events, Kurgat ducked under 21 minutes for 6,000-meters to win the West Regional championships before placing third at the NCAA Championships in 20:30.5. Alaska Anchorage returns five of its top-seven from last year. Senior Tamara Perez earned All-GNAC honors last year after placing 10th in 22:23.20. The Seawolves also welcome back junior Zennah Jepchumba (14th in 22:35.20) and the senior Burroughs (16th in 22:39.60).

Simon Fraser aims to challenge UAA again as it returns its top-three finishers from last year’s conference meet. The trio is led by senior Julia Howley, who earned All-American honors with a 29th place finish at the NCAA Championships. She ran 21:16.40 at nationals after placing seventh in the GNAC meet in 22:09.00. Senior Miryam Bassett just missed an All-America trophy with a 42nd place NCAA meet finish. She placed 11th at both the GNAC Championships (22:26.80) and NCAA West Regional (21:45.81). Junior Addy Townsend made big strides as a sophomore, capturing 13th place at the GNAC meet (22:32.30) and 26th in the regional championship.

Alaska Anchorage is one of three GNAC teams competing over Labor Day weekend, taking part in the USF Cross Country Invitational in San Francisco on Saturday.