PUEBLO, Colo. - Junior Micah Chelimo became the second Seawolf track & field athlete to claim a national title by winning the men's 5,000 meters on Saturday and helping Alaska Anchorage to its best-ever combined performance at the NCAA Div. II Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
On the men's side, UAA furnished a program-best 28 points, bypassing its previous best of 19 in 2009 and giving the Seawolves their first ever top-10 team placing in the sport. UAA finished ninth at the conclusion of all 21 events at the Neta and Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl Stadium.
Meanwhile, the women's team completed the three-day championships with a program-best 17 points, good for a two-way tie for 11th. The six All-America honors easily set a school best, as the Seawolves had only posted two All-America honors in the same season -- once in 2006 and again last season.
Combined, the Seawolves posted a school-best 10 All-America honors -- six women's, four men's -- with junior Susan Tanui and Chelimo registering two apiece. Senior Kelsea Johnson (heptathlon), junior Ruth Keino (5,000) and sophomores Haleigh Lloyd (400 hurdles) and Ivy O'Guinn (1500) each picked up one on the women's side, while senior Alfred Kangogo (1500) and freshman Cody Parker (javelin) each earned one apiece on the men's team.
Finding the only way to highlight the most successful weekend in UAA's track & field history, Chelimo collected a program-best 18 points for the Seawolves with his winning performance in the 5,000 meters and a runner-up finish in Friday's 3,000-meter steeplechase. Chelimo became just the second Seawolf male to furnish two All-America honors in the same season, joining former teammate Marko Cheseto.
Chelimo, the West Region Male Track Athlete of the Year, took control of Saturday's 5K race with 400 meters remaining and led throughout the last lap. A native of Kapkoi, Kenya, Chelimo crossed the finish line at 15 minutes, 15.85 seconds, outdistancing Western State's Tyler Pennel (15:16.56) in the third-to-last event on the windy Colorado State University-Pueblo campus.
Tanui, who owns UAA's women's best finish ever after taking second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Friday, became the first Seawolf woman to post two All-America honors in the same season. A local of Eldoret, Kenya, Tanui took eighth in the 5,000 meters with a time of 18:00.06
From Kapcheno, Kenya, Keino recorded her second career All-America honor with a seventh-place finish in the 5,000 meters, clocking in at 17:57.33. A junior in track, Keino also earned All-America honors in 2011 in the 10,000 meters.
Earlier in the day, Parker, from Comox, B.C., set the Great Northwest Athletic Conference record with a toss of 232 feet, five inches, good for six team points. Entering the NCAAs ranked seventh, Parker's toss ranks 12th all-time in Division II.
Parker competed in the first heat of the preliminaries and led the field following three attempts with a then-GNAC record of 226-3. The previous GNAC record was held by Northwest Nazarene's Josh Heidegger (2009) at 223-2. Parker's third-place heave came on his second attempt in the finals. He was the only freshman to make the finals.
Kangogo, from Eldoret, Kenya, joined Chelimo as the only Seawolves with three straight All-America honors in the same event. The 1500 meters third-place finisher in 2011, Kangogo finished fifth this year with a time of 4:15.18. He also finished 8th in the event in 2010.
Collecting her first career All-America honor was O'Guinn in the 1500 meters. A local of Soldotna, O'Guinn registered a time of 4:41.98, good for seventh place. A year ago, O'Guinn finished ninth in the same event.
Posting her first appearance in the finals at the NCAAs was Lloyd, a native of Ladysmith, B.C. The GNAC record holder in the event at 59.62, Lloyd crossed the finish line in a time of 59.91, collecting All-America honors with a seventh-place showing.
UAA's first national champion was David Registe in the long jump in 2008, while the previous best team for the men's team was 14th, accomplished in 2009 and 2010. The Seawolf women had never finished better than 33rd.
Winning the men's team championship was Adams (Colo.) State with 77 points, while Grand Valley (Mich.) State took home the title on the women's side with 90 points.