Seawolves Hungry For Eighth Straight Men's XC Title
Edwin Kangogo (118) hopes to repeat as champion, but will be pushed by teammate Nathan Kipchumba (120) and Western Oregon's David Ribich (209). Photo by Nick Danielson.
Edwin Kangogo (118) hopes to repeat as champion, but will be pushed by teammate Nathan Kipchumba (120) and Western Oregon's David Ribich (209). Photo by Nick Danielson.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Over the last two years, Alaska Anchorage has won every GNAC men’s team title in cross country & indoor and outdoor track and field.

The Seawolves hope to start the third year of dominance and win their eighth consecutive men’s cross country title, but it won’t be an easy repeat this time around as the GNAC Championships return to Lake Padden in Bellingham, Wash.

Alaska Anchorage returns defending GNAC champion Edwin Kangogo, who paced three UAA runners in the top-10 en route to a team title with a total of 31 points. It marked the sixth consecutive year where the Seawolves had won with a score of 35 points or less.

But where experience was on the Seawolves’ side last year, it is not this year. Alaska Anchorage returns just two other runners who competed in last year’s championship, both of whom were not in the scoring five. Nathan Kipchumba placed 15th last year and was the team’s No. 6 runner while Kaleb Korta finished 42nd.

Kangogo will contend to repeat as individual champion, having run 25:29.4 for 8,000 meters this season. After winning the GNAC last year, Kangogo went on to place fourth at the NCAA West Region and earned All-American honors with a 19th place Division II Championships finish. The best complement to Kangogo will not be one of the returners, but freshman Felix Kemboi, who ran 25:31.8 at the Division II Conference Crossover.

Simon Fraser and Western Washington stand the best chance to end UAA’s string of team titles. The Clan, who have placed second each of the last two years, have put together a number of solid team finishes all season. Sean Miller, who placed ninth in last year’s meet, has led SFU with a season-best 25:04.2 over 8,000 meters. Oliver Jorgensen, who placed fifth in the 2015 meet, hopes to end his career on a high note. Jorgensen has run 25:44 this season.

The Vikings would love nothing more than to dethrone the Seawolves to end a three-year run of the GNAC Championships on their home course. Western Washington showed well in their final tune-up of the season, placing second at their own WWU Classic.

Andrew Wise, who has an 8,000-meter best of 25:29.7 this season, has had four top-20 finishes and hopes to erase a disappointing 35th place finish in last year’s meet. Wise finished sixth at the WWU Classic, which was contested at Lake Padden over the 10,000-meter distance that will be run at the regional and national meets. Wise is complemented by a talented and youthful supporting cast that is led by junior Dylan Hayes and sophomore Liam Cossette.

Western Oregon has run its top runners just once this season, but cannot be discounted in the title chase. Division II outdoor 1,500-meter champion David Ribich won his only race of the year and has the fastest 8,000-meter time run in the GNAC this season, a 24:47.0 at the San Francisco State Invitational.  Junior Dustin Nading, the 2016 Newcomer of the Year, placed ninth in last year’s meet and has run 25:20.6 this season.

The race for the individual title should be a good one with four of last year’s top-10 returning to the championships. Northwest Nazarene’s Isaac Mitchell placed seventh last year and enters the meet with a season-best of 25:19.9. Simon Fraser’s Rowan Doherty and Alaska Anchorage’s Kipchumba should also figure into the mix after finishing 14th and 15th last year, respectively.

Other runners to watch for individual laurels include Seattle Pacific senior Ben Halladay, Concordia senior Judd Lewis and Montana State Billings senior Jorey Egeland.