MCMINNVILLE, ORE. – University of Alaska Anchorage Associate Athletic Director and Head Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Michael Friess was enshrined in the Linfield College Hall of Fame Sunday.
“I would like to thank my coach George Oja,” said Friess. “George was the reason we had success at Linfield. I appreciated his patience, maturity and mentorship.”
Friess was also thankful for his coaches. “Collectively, we made each other better. We’ve stayed connected in a very real sense.”
Retired Linfield coach George Oja calls Friess “certainly one of the most talented and most versatile distance runners I had the pleasure and privilege to coach. From a coach’s perspective, he was like having another coach on the scene.”
Thirty-three years after his graduation, Friess remains prominent in the Linfield track and field record book. He ranks second in the 5,000-meter run, is third in the 10,000, and owns the fourth-fastest time in the 1,500. He twice captured NWC titles in the 1,500 and claimed single championships in the 5,000 and 10,000. He was also crowned a district champion in the 5,000.
In national competition, Friess raced to a fifth-place finish at the 1985 NAIA Track & Field Championships, earning an All-America citation.
In cross country, he continues to hold the fastest Linfield cross country 8-kilometer time on the Bush’s Pasture Park course, as well as having the second-fastest Northwest Conference Championships time on the Fort Steilacoom Park circuit. Friess became the first runner in Linfield history to claim a district cross-country championship, while leading the Wildcats to conference and district team titles.
Teammate Glen Giovannetti, a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, remembers how Friess and his teammates “all became all better runners and people because of how we trained together on the track and in the hills around McMinnville. The camaraderie we shared during, before and after workouts are the fondest of memories.”
Graduating from Linfield in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, Friess continued his education at the University of Oregon where he completed a master’s degree in sport biomechanics and adapted physical education.
Today, Friess is in his 29th year as cross country and track and field coach at the University of Alaska.
At Alaska-Anchorage, Friess has coached a 11 combined cross country and track individual national champions, 32 conference team champions, seven regional team champions and 156 All-Americans. Four of his Seawolves teams have achieved top 4 podium performances at nationals. UAA has been recognized with 46 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Athlete of the Year or Coach of the Year awards.
Active in the Anchorage community, Friess is Director of the Mayors Marathon and Half Marathon, administering an event that draws 4,000 participants and 800 volunteers each year.
Michael and his wife, Stephanie, have two children, daughter Meagan – a former Alaska-Anchorage track & field athlete – and son Steven.
The Alaska Anchorage cross country teams will compete at the NCAA West Regional Championships Saturday in Billings.