Alaska Anchorage will open the season with a dual meet against in-state rival Alaska Fairbanks Saturday, Sept. 8th. The meet will take place at Russian Jack Park as part of the New Balance XC Classic. The men will race seven-kilometers and the women will race six-kilometers.
Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams at UAA are ranked in the USTFCCCA National Polls. The women start the year tied at No. 8 and the men are No. 22.
The UAA women were picked to repeat as GNAC Champions in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll. The Seawolves garnered 9 of 11 first place votes and finished with 108 points, six more than second palce Simon Fraser. The men’s squad was picked second behind defending GNAC champion Western Oregon. The Wolves earned 102 points and seven first place votes, with the Seawolves earning two first-place votes and 94 points. Simon Fraser and Western Washington each earned one first-place vote and tied for third with 92 points.
The UAA women return four All-GNAC performers and two All-Americans. Senior Zennah Jepchumba placed fourth at the GNAC Championships (21:53.66) and went on to finish 30th at the national meet. Junior Emmah Chelimo earned GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors with her eighth-place conference finish (22:11.26) and earned an All-American trophy by placing 40th at nationals.
Senior Danielle McCormick placed fifth at conference (22:06.72) and just missed All-American honors with a 41st place nationals finish. She went on to win the Division II national title indoors at 800 meters. Senior Kimberly Coscia rounds out the group as she finished 10th at the GNAC Championships (22:12.28).
For the men’s squad, sophomore Felix Kemboi earned GNAC Freshman of the Year honors with a third-place finish (25:18.59) and is the conference’s top returning finisher. Senior Jorge Sanchez was named the GNAC Newcomer of the Year thanks to a 23rd place finish (26:11.93). Alaska Anchorage also returns top-45 conference meet finishers in sophomore Nickson Koech (30th, 26:36.26) and junior Kaleb Korta (45th, 26:54.91). Wesley Kirui, a transfer from Div. I Hampton, will play a major role in this year’s team.
UAA will take two weeks off before heading to Sin City for the UNLV Invitational Sept. 22nd.