Leaving No Doubt: Kurgat Runs Away With West Regional
Caroline Kurgat (in green), ran away with the West Region title with a time of 20:26.1. Simon Fraser's Julia Howley (left) will join Kurgat at nationals. Photo by Nick Danielson.
Caroline Kurgat (in green), ran away with the West Region title with a time of 20:26.1. Simon Fraser's Julia Howley (left) will join Kurgat at nationals. Photo by Nick Danielson.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Two weeks after winning the GNAC Championships in dominant fashion, Alaska Anchorage senior Caroline Kurgat proved in front of the entire West Region that her performance was no fluke.

Kurgat was an easy winner at the NCAA Division II West Region Women’s Cross Country Championships on Saturday, covering the 6,000-meter Ash Creek Preserve track in a course record time of 20:26.1. She posted a 38-second victory over second place Annett Somogyi of Cal Baptist, who crossed the finish line in a time of 21:04.5.

Kurgat’s dominant win came two weeks after she claimed her second straight GNAC women’s cross country title by a margin of 56 seconds. With the win, Kurgat automatically qualifies for the NCAA Division II Championships, which take place on Sat., Nov. 18, in Evansville, Indiana. She will enter as one of the favorites after having placed third at the 2016 national meet.

Kurgat will be joined by her Alaska Anchorage teammates as Seawolves qualified for the national meet as a team, placing second with a score of 84 points. Cal Baptist, running in its final West Region championships before the school’s transition to Division I, won the meet with a score of 68 points. Chico State also advances to nationals as the third-place team with a score of 127 points.

Simon Fraser just missed automatic qualification for nationals with a fourth place team score of 127 points. Western Washington placed eighth with a score of 257 points.

The Seawolves placed all five scoring runners in the top-25 to earn each athlete All-West Region honors. Junior Zennah Jepchumba placed 15th in a time of 21:34.2. Junior Danielle McCormick was 21st in 21:47.0, senior Mariah Burroughs placed 22nd in 21:47.7 and sophomore Emmah Chelimo placed 25th in 21:52.1.

Simon Fraser senior Julia Howley will join the Seawolves at the national meet thanks to her sixth-place finish time of 21:23.0. She was the second finisher in the race not attached to one of the three advancing teams.

Three other GNAC athletes earned All-West Region distinction with their top-25 finishes. Western Oregon senior Kennedy Rufener placed 12th on her home course in a time of 21:32.8. Simon Fraser senior Miryam Bassett finished 17th in 21:39.6 while Central Washington Alexa Shindruk was one place behind in 18th with a time of 21:40.7.

The field for the NCAA Division II National Championships will be announced on Monday by 2 p.m. (Pacific). The release will include the selection of at-large teams and individuals.

At Ash Creek Preserve, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Ore.

Team Scores (Top 3 Teams Advance Automatically To National Meet): Cal Baptist 68, Alaska Anchorage 84, Chico State 105, Simon Fraser 127, Cal St. San Marcos 165, Cal Poly Pomona 189, Academy of Art 252, Western Washington 257, Humboldt State 292, Point Loma 307, Stanislaus State 328, Seattle Pacific 332, San Francisco St. 348, Central Washington 378, Azusa Pacific 437, Dixie State 505, Cal St. East Bay 508, Western Oregon 518, Fresno Pacific 610, Northwest Nazarene 643, Concordia (Ore.) 653, Cal State LA 682, Concordia (Calif.) 699, Alaska 702, Cal St. Monterey Bay 717, Saint Martin’s 753, Sonoma State 803, Montana St. Billings 831, Notre Dame de Namur 849.

Top 10 Finishers: 1, Caroline Kurgat, UAA, 20:26.1 (Course Record). 2, Annett Somogyi, CBU, 21:04.5. 3, Emeline Delanis, CBU, 21:08.6. 4, Hannah Dorman, CSUC, 21:10.9. 5, Natalie Rodriguez, CSUSM, 21:16.1. 6, Julia Howley, SFU, 21:23.0. 7, Swann Phelippeau, AAU, 21:27.5. 8, Tatiana Gillick, HSU, 21:30.0. 9, Ella Berhees, UCSD, 21:30.4. 10, Hannah Benoit-Bucher, 21:31.3.

GNAC All-West Region (Top 25): 12, Kennedy Rufener, WOU, 21:32.8. 15, Jennah Jepchumba, UAA. 21:34.2. 17, Miryam Bassett, SFU, 21:39.6. 18, Alexa Shindruk, CWU, 21:40.7. 21, Danielle McCormick, UAA, 21:47.0. 22, Mariah Burroughs, UAA, 21:47.7. 25, Emmah Chelimo, UAA, 21:52.1.