PITTSBURGH – The University of Alaska Anchorage cross country teams battled strong rains and muddy conditions with the women finishing sixth and the men eighth at the NCAA Div. II Cross Country National Championships.
“I was really pleased with the way our men’s and women’s teams ran today,” said head coach Michael Friess. “If at the beginning of the year you would have told me that our women would finish sixth and our men eighth, and we would have four All-Americans I would have been ecstatic. We have a lot of people returning on both teams so we are excited for the future of UAA cross country.”
Wesley Kirui and Felix Kemboi both ran in the top-15 through the first five kilometers of the 10 kilometer race. Kirui earned his first All-American honor placing ninth in 32:35.
Kemboi faded over the final five kilometers finishing 54th (33:51).
Jorge Sanchez ran a very even paced race to finish 65th (34:04), and Nickson Koech improved his position on every lap and finished 78th (34:16).
Faisal Ibrahim moved up 30 spots from his initial start position to place 130th (34:57) and completed the scoring for UAA.
Emmah Chelimo and Nancy Jeptoo positioned themselves near the front of the women’s race, but it was Zennah Jepchumba who would run from behind to finish as the Seawolves' top runner.
Jepchumba was in 46th after the first mile and into the top-25 with 2,000 meters to go. Jepchumba passed Jeptoo over the final 1,000 meters and finished one spot ahead of Chelimo. Jepchumba and Chelimo placed 22nd and 23rd in identical times of 23:15 over the 6,000 meter race.
Nancy Jeptoo ran most of the race in the top-25 before holding on for All-American honors finishing 38th (23:27).
Danielle McCormick, an All-American on the track both indoors and out, narrowly missed All-American honors finishing 45th (23:39).
Ruth Cvancara completed the scoring for UAA finishing 175th (25:26).
Other finishes for the Seawolves included Riley Burroughs 214th (26:01) and Kim Coscia 234th (26:44).
The women’s sixth-place finish extended the Seawolves streak to 10 straight years of finishing in the top-eight as a team.
The men’s team has finished in the top-eight, eight of the last nine years.
This completes the cross country season and the team will turn its focus to indoor track and field.