NAMPA, Idaho – Darrion Gray captured a pair of school records, Felix Kemboi earned the 5000-meter crown, and Tamara Perez collected an NCAA automatic time in the 800 meters to lead the Alaska Anchorage men’s and No. 21 women’s track and field teams in day one at the GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Ford Idaho Center.
Gray and a slew of other Seawolves advanced to the finals of the competition, while several final events wrapped up. The men’s squad sits third with 20 points, while the women are fifth with 24 points after day one.
“Overall it was a very strong day and I really liked seeing our athletes compete to their potential,” head coach Michael Friess said. “We were having fun, competed hard and tomorrow should be another good day.”
Freshman Felix Kemboi surged with 500 meters to go to become the sixth Seawolf man to win the 5,000 meters, crossing the line in 15:12.63. UAA has won the GNAC event every season it has sponsored indoor track and field, dating back to 2013. Jorge Sanchez finished sixth in the event.
Senior Darrion Gray ran blistering times in his 60- and 200-meter heats, setting new program marks in both. Gray began the day clocking 6.92 in the 60 meters and followed up with a 21.62 in the 200. The 200-meter time stands as the second best in GNAC history and is an NCAA provisional qualifying standard.
The long jump wrapped up on Friday with Christopher Brake leaping 22 feet, 9.25 inches (6.94m) to finish third.
“I felt pretty happy about the school records,” Friess said. “Chris Brake getting third in the long jump was big for us. Felix Kemboi’s run was also impressive because he ran two-thirds of the race without a shoe.”
Several other men’s athletes advanced to Saturday’s finals. Daniel Remington (fifth, 400m, 49.29) and Eduardo Orozco (eighth, 800m, 1:56.35) both will be moving on, while Liam Lindsay qualified in the 200 and 400. Lindsay covered 200 meters in 21.95 (third), and 400 meters in 49.88 (eighth).
On the women’s squad, Tamara Perez had the fastest 800-meter preliminary time with a time of 2:08.65, earning an NCAA automatic berth in the event. Perez will be joined by Yemi Knight (third, 2:09.85), Danielle McCormick (fifth, 2:13.45), and Ruth Cvancara (seventh, 2:14.96). Knight’s time is an NCAA provisional standard.
“Our 800-meter runners shined this meet,” Friess said. “Having four runners in Saturday’s final is a big boost.”
Three Seawolves, Emmah Chelimo (third, 17:34.13), Kimberly Coscia (fifth, 17:55.50), and Zennah Jepchumba (sixth, 18:01.66), scored in the women’s 5,000.
UAA contested two other finals on Friday, the women’s distance medley and pentathlon. The DMR team of Perez, Knight, Danielle McCormick and Mariah Burroughs finished third in 11:52.56. Elena Cano (sixth, 3109 points) and Yvonne Jeschke (seventh, 3069 points) added to UAA’s score. Jeschke won the 800 in the pentathlon (2:20.35).
Marie Ries and Vanessa Aniteye advanced to Saturday’s sprint events. Ries finished fifth in the 60-meter dash in 7.89. Aniteye will be representing the Green and Gold in the 200 (eighth, 25.56) and 400 (third, 56.81).
The Seawolves conclude the GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Ford Idaho Center on Saturday. Events begin at 7:30 a.m. AKST and the last event will commence at 1:30 p.m.