PORTLAND, Ore. – The Great Northwest Athletic Conference has honored Alaska Anchorage’s Michael Friess and Simon Fraser’s Brit Townsend with Cross Country Coach of the Year awards, following impressive team performances at the NCAA Division II Championships.
Seawolves’ head coach Michael Friess was selected by his peers as the GNAC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the seventh consecutive season. Clan’s head coach Brit Townsend earned the GNAC’s Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the second time.
Friess coached the Alaska Anchorage men to another successful season as the Seawolves finished fifth at the NCAA Division II Championships. It marked the third time UAA has finished in the top 5 at the national meet. The team was propelled by senior Michel Ramirez and junior Edwin Kangogo. Ramirez finished 13th to become a two-time All-American, after redshirting last season. Kangogo earned GNAC Runner of the Year following his individual victory at the conference meet and became a back-to-back All-American, finishing 34th at nationals.
Alaska Anchorage secured their seventh straight GNAC title and finished second at the NCAA West Region Championships, prior to the national competition. The team has now recorded 10 GNAC championships in the conference’s 16-year history. The meet also garnered the ninth consecutive GNAC Runner of Year award for the Seawolves.
The GNAC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year award is the 10th for Friess and the 19th overall, earning eight on the women’s side and one Pac West Men’s Coach of the Year honor. In his 27-year career at Alaska Anchorage, Friess has 30 coach of the year awards combined in cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field.
Townsend was voted the GNAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the second time after leading Simon Fraser to runner-up finishes at both the GNAC Championships and the NCAA West Region Championships. The Clan were the highest-placing GNAC team at West Regions and the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The program also recorded its best performance in its history at the national meet, finishing sixth.
Two All-Americans led Simon Fraser this season. Senior Rebecca Bassett placed 23rd at the national level, eighth at West Regions, and third at the GNAC Championships. Julia Howley crossed the line in 29th for the Clan at the NCAA Championships and also became an All-American.