PORTLAND, Ore. – The University of Alaska Anchorage's Caroline Kurgat was named the Women's Athlete of the Year and Wesley Kirui was named the Men's Newcomer of the Year by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Friday.
The Women’s Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year, Kurgat was once again unstoppable in the distance disciplines. She repeated as the national champion in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters at last week’s Division II Championships and completed a sweep of the 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters at the GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Kurgat set the meet record in the 5,000 meters and was named the Female Track Athlete of the Meet.
Kurgat set the NCAA Division II record in the 10,000 meters with a time of 32:08.09 against a field of professional and Division I athletes at the Stanford Invitational. The time continues to rank No. 3 across all college divisions and No. 30 in the world according to the IAAF. She also ranks No. 3 in Division II history in the 5,000 meters with a time of 15:40.45 at the Bryan Clay Invitational. The remarkable season also earned Kurgat selection as the USTFCCCA Division II Female Track Athlete of the Year.
After transferring from Division I Hampton, where he was an All-American in the steeplechase, Kirui proceeded to repeat the feat in his first season as a Division II athlete. Despite not competing until late in the season, Kirui proceeded to automatically qualify for nationals in the steeplechase with a time of 8:52.35 at the West Coast Invitational. He ran that race a day after winning the GNAC championship in the event in 9:03.95, his first steeplechase of the season. Kirui placed third at the national meet in 8:56.33, earning All-American honors.