MONMOUTH, ORE. – Wesley Kirui and Emma Chelimo both won individual titles and led the University of Alaska Anchorage to a sweep of the team titles at the GNAC Cross Country Championships Saturday.
The Seawolf duo pulled away late clocking identical times of 24:38 over the eight-kilometer course with Kirui taking the win over Kemboi. The pair of runners from SFU finished less than five seconds back with the WOU duo 15 seconds back in fifth and sixth.
With the win, Kirui was named the GNAC Athlete of the Year and the GNAC Newcomer of the year. Kirui’s individual win was the 11th individual title in program history.
Jorge Sanchez was the third UAA men’s runner to earn All-GNAC honors finishing seventh in 24:54.
Nickson Koech was one spot out of All-GNAC honors placing 11th (25:14).
Faisal Ibrahim completed the scoring with a 25th place finish (25:53).
“We wanted to run assertive and that meant running near the front,” said head coach Michael Friess. “The race was a real battle, and I was happy how the team responded. The men fought for one another and what they did today was for each other.”
The Seawolves won their 11th conference title with a score of 46 points. Simon Fraser finished second with 54 points and Western Washington was third with 60.
UAA has won eight of the last nine GNAC titles and has won a GNAC record 11 overall.
Women’s Recap Emmah Chelimo earned her first career GNAC title after covering the six-kilometer course in a time of 21:15. Chelimo also earned GNAC Athlete of the Year honors with the win. Chelimo’s individual GNAC title is the seventh in program history.
Chelimo, Nancy Jeptoo and Zennah Jepchumba controlled the pace early in the race. Chelimo and Jeptoo ran in the lead pack before Chelimo pushed the pace and strung out the leaders over the final two kilometers of the race.
Nancy Jeptoo earned GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors after placing fifth (21:42).
Ruth Cvancara completed the scoring for the Seawolves with a 24th place finish (22:33).
The team race was very close with Alaska Anchorage winning with a score of 49. Simon Fraser was second with 60 and Seattle Pacific third with 64. The title was the ninth for UAA, a GNAC record. UAA has won 9 of the last 10 GNAC titles.
“I am really happy with how Emmah’s career has progressed,” said Friess. “Nancy ran a lot better than she did at WWU, and Dani ran a very important race to earn All-GNAC honors. The team battle really came down to the fifth runners. I don’t know how many women she passed at the end, but Ruth passed a lot of runners over the last 300 meters.”
Alaska Anchorage will participate in the NCAA West Regional Nov. 17 in Billings, Mont.