PORTLAND, Ore. – Head coaches Michael Friess of Alaska Anchorage and Mike Johnson of Western Oregon were honored by league peers as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross Country Coaches of the Year, announced Friday. Friess was named the Women’s Cross Country Coach of the year, while Johnson was selected as the Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.

Friess received his ninth GNAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year award and 19th league cross country coaching honor overall. In addition, he now has a combined 32 coach of the year awards between cross country and track and field.

Friess helped the UAA women’s cross country program finish fifth and in the top five at the NCAA Championships for the third time in school history. It marked the 10th consecutive appearance at nationals for the team and 12th overall. Coach Friess helped guide senior three-time All-American Caroline Kurgat to an individual national title – the first for the women’s program. She was also named the National Athlete of the Year following her 20-second win. Zennah Jepchumba (32nd, women) and Edwin Kangogo (19th, men) also became All-Americans this season.

Alaska Anchorage’s head coach helped the Seawolves finish runner-up at the West Region Championships, saw Kurgat earn her first regional crown, and guided five All-West Region performers – the most since 2012. Friess also powered the UAA women to its 3rd consecutive GNAC title (8th overall), oversaw Kurgat’s repeat conference championship, and developed five top-10 (All-GNAC) runners at the league meet.

Johnson garnered his first GNAC Cross Country Coach of the Year award and 14th GNAC Coach of the Year award between cross country and track and field. He engineered the first GNAC cross country championship in program history, led by GNAC individual champion David Ribich. Johnson also helped Western Oregon advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time with a third-place West Region finish.

Johnson coached two All-GNAC honorees and All-West Region selections in Ribich and Dustin Nading. Ribich earned GNAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year and the USTFCCCA West Region Athlete of the Year accolades. He also finished the season as an All-American with a 30th-place finish at nationals.