Three GNAC Teams Selected For Cross Country Nationals
Karoline Kurgat (left), Julia Howley (center) and David Ribich (right) lead the three GNAC teams selected for the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Karoline Kurgat (left), Julia Howley (center) and David Ribich (right) lead the three GNAC teams selected for the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Monday, November 6, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Three Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams and two individuals will be making the trip to Evansville, Indiana, in two weeks for the 2017 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships.

The women’s teams from Alaska Anchorage and Simon Fraser and the men’s squad from Western Oregon have earned invitations to the national meet, which takes place Nov. 18 at the Angel Mounds course in Evansville. In addition, Alaska Anchorage’s Edwin Kangogo and Western Oregon’s Kennedy Rufener earned invitations as individuals.

Alaska Anchorage earned an automatic qualifying spot thanks to its second-place finish in Saturday’s NCAA West Regional Championships in Monmouth, Ore. The Seawolves finished with a score of 84 points thanks in part to the dominant performance of senior Caroline Kurgat, who won the meet with a time of 20:26.1 over 6,000 meters.

Simon Fraser was one of eight at-large teams picked by the NCAA Division II Cross Country Committee and of three selected from the West Region. The Clan placed fourth at the regional meet with a score of 127 points. In all, six West Region women’s teams were selected for the national meet, the most of any region.

Western Oregon is the lone GNAC men’s team to qualify for the national meet. The Wolves tied for third with Simon Fraser with 121 points, but the Wolves earned the third and final automatic qualifying berth from the region via tiebreaker. The Wolves were led by senior David Ribich, who won the meet on his home course with a time of 29:49.2 for 10,000 meters.

Despite tying with Western Oregon, Simon Fraser was not awarded one of the eight at-large spots. Also left out of the field was Alaska Anchorage, who placed fifth with a score of 172 points. The Seawolves will have their impressive streak of nine straight team national meet appearances come to an end.

The Seawolves will be represented individually by Kangogo. The 2016 GNAC champion placed sixth at regionals with a time of 30:11.5 and earned one of three automatic individual qualifier berths from the West Region.

The biggest beneficiary of the six women’s teams qualifying from the West Region is Western Oregon’s Rufener, who was awarded an at-large individual berth to the meet. Rufener finished 12th at the regional meet, crossing the finish line in 21:32.8.

Simon Fraser’s women led the GNAC at last year’s national meet, placing sixth with a score of 210 points. Alaska Anchorage was eighth with 259 points. Kurgat is the top returning finisher from last year’s meet, having placed third with a time of 20:30.5. The Seawolves’ men were the top placing GNAC men’s team last year, placing seventh with a score of 289 points.

This year’s meet marks the first time the NCAA’s new qualifying criteria have been used to determine the field for the national meet. The top-three teams from each region (men and women) automatically qualified for nationals along with the top-three individuals not from one of the three qualifying teams. The at-large selections were made using criteria listed on the NCAA website.