One of the nation’s most respected track & field mentors, Michael Friess is in his 23rd season as head coach of the cross country and track & field programs at the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2012-13.
Since joining the GNAC in 2001, UAA’s cross country teams have combined for one NCAA individual title, 20 top-three team finishes at the conference meet, 10 league titles, 20 All-Americans, 69 all-conference certificates and eight individual conference titles. The women’s team is on a streak of four straight titles since 2009, while the men’s team has three straight from 2010-12.
The Seawolves have been no stranger to the NCAA Championships under Friess’ guidance, having qualified a team for the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships 16 times overall, including sending both the men’s and women’s squads in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
In eight seasons of full institutional sponsorship, the Seawolf track & field teams have quickly left their mark on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference under Friess, earning two individual NCAA titles and four runner-up finishes, 31 All-America awards, 52 individual conference titles, 88 all-conference honorees, and 13 league records.
In less than a decade as a full-fledged program, Friess has piloted the track & field squads to success on a national level, qualifying 56 athletes for NCAAs since 2001. A program-record 10 Seawolves competed at the Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2012 and 2009, and the UAA men have finished in the top 20 for the past five seasons, including their first top-10 showing in 2012.
Friess has earned 14 conference coach-of-the-year accolades in cross country, including three straight women’s coach-of-the-year honors from 2003-05. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Friess swept both the men’s and women’s GNAC Coach of the Year honors. In addition to conference honors, Friess earned his first West Region honor in the spring of 2009 for the men’s track & field team, before picking up his first women’s cross country honor in the fall of the same year. Friess went on to sweep the West Region in 2010 and 2011, claiming both the men’s and women’s Coach of the Year accolades.
Athletes have excelled in the classroom as well under Friess, earning 170 academic all-conference accolades since 1994 and 59 USTFCCCA all-academic honors since 2006. Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams have combined for 14 U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team recognitions since 2005, while both track & field teams have made the All-Academic Team each year since 2009.
Friess graduated from Linfield (Ore.) College with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science in 1985 and was an NAIA All-American distance runner for the Wildcats. He earned a master’s degree in sport biomechanics from the University of Oregon in 1986.
A graduate of Anchorage’s Dimond High, Friess remains active in the local running community as a competitor, coach and organizer. Some of the events Friess organizes include the Mayor’s Marathon & Half-Marathon and the Crow Pass Crossing.
A USA Track & Field Level II coach, Friess is also a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and is certified by ACSM as an exercise test technologist and exercise specialist.
He and his wife Stephanie have two children, Meagan – a former Seawolf track & field athlete – and Steven.