UAA sweeps GNAC Championships again
The three-time defending champion and No.5-ranked UAA women’s squad dominated the field, posting a GNAC-record 16 points – just one shy of perfection – with its five scorers in the top six. Simon Fraser took second with 61 points and Seattle Pacific third with 104. The previous league record of 24 points was set by SPU in 2007.
The men’s team, ranked No. 7 in the national poll, registered a GNAC-record 23 points – besting their own league record of 27, set a year ago. WWU finished runner-up with 50 points, followed by Montana State Billings with 103. Host Western Oregon (112) took fourth, while SPU (140) was fifth.
“We are very happy with the performance from our team,” said head coach Michael Friess, “We had a lot of great individual performances as well as the team. The next job is to get some rest and move forward towards the regional meet.”
The women’s title was their fourth all-time since joining the league in 2001, while the men’s team collected its sixth GNAC title and seventh overall – UAA also won in 1997 when it was in the Pacific West Conference.
Tanui, from Eldoret, Kenya, furnished UAA’s second women’s individual title, on the heels of Ruth Keino’s win last season. Earning her first all-conference honor in cross country, Tanui cruised to victory with a time of 20 minutes, 37.29 seconds in the 6,000-meter race. With the win, Tanui stayed undefeated on the season.
Claiming her fourth all-conference honor was senior Miriam Kipng’eno, who crossed the finish line at 20:55.16 for second place, while junior Ivy O’Guinn claimed the final podium spot with a time of 21:04.20 for her second all-conference award. Also scoring for the Seawolves were freshman Sarah Freistone (21:13.06) in fourth and junior Susan Bick (21:20.09) in sixth.
Simon Fraser’s Lindsey Butterworth finished fifth at 21:19.46, breaking up UAA’s chance at a perfect score.
Leading the men’s team to its fourth championship in five years, Chelimo stayed undefeated on the season with his second straight individual crown. A local of Kapkoi, Kenya, Chelimo crossed the finish line at 24:49.53 on the 8K course. The result marked the fifth straight year that a Seawolf has been crowned. Former UAA All-American Marko Cheseto won from 2008-10.
Senior Alfred Kangogo joined Chelimo with his fourth career all-conference award, finishing runner-up with a time of 24:57.93, while WWU’s Dak Riek took third place in 25:05.38. Completing the scoring for UAA were sophomore Dylan Anthony (25:12.49), senior Jake Parisien (25:18.51) and sophomore Isaac Kangogo (25:27.84) in fifth, sixth and ninth, respectively.
For Kipng'eno, Chelimo and Kangogo, the trio became the first runners in UAA cross country history to earn all-conference finishes four straight times.
Tanui and Chelimo also swept the top postrace honors as they were named the respective women's and men's GNAC Cross Country Athletes of the Year, while Freistone captured Freshman of the Year on the women's side.
The Seawolves will aim for their third straight NCAA Div. II West Regional Championships sweep on Nov. 3, when they travel to Ka’a’awa, Hawaii.