For the Seawolf cross country team’s, winning is a tradition. Like clockwork, both squads have jumped off to another 2-0 start. It’s the fourth straight time the runners have opened the season in that fashion. And they rarely slow down the pace.
This is how the first quarter of the year has transpired:
Micah Chelimo — one of the most decorated distance runners to ever step on campus — isn’t walking back through that door. And it doesn’t appear to change anyone’s perception of the green and gold crew.
The Great Northwest Athletic Conference 2013 preseason coaches’ poll places the men and women as unanimous picks to repeat as champions. If the coaches are right, this will be the fourth GNAC title in a row for the men and the fifth for the women.
The first meet came against BYU-Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Senior Susan Tanui and junior Dylan Anthony nabbed individual wins, leading their respective groups to 5K victories.
The women were flawless. Sophomore Joyce Kipchumba, junior Bryn Haebe, and seniors Ivy O’Guinn and Christi Schmitz came across the line in succession after Tanui.
The men left a small margin open for improvement. Junior Isaac Kangogo and freshman Victor Samoei rounded out the podium positions, while freshman Michael Mendenhall was the last Seawolf to crack the top-five.
Not much changed in the team’s second event — just another dominant performance in Oahu. This time they shredded the Chaminade Invitational.
The women sustained their route to a perfect season. Yet again, Tanui was the head of the snake, earning her second individual win in a row.
Anthony helped complete the mirror image of their first meet by capturing his second individual win in a row, as well. The men’s quest for perfection is still on.
The first — take a deep breath — U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division II Cross Country National Coaches Poll dropped, and both teams landed in the top 10.
The women came in strong at five, and the men’s team ranked nine and was the only GNAC representative in the top 25.
UAA is taking its undefeated record to Salem, Ore., for the Willamette Invitational. The last time they ran in Salem, the men finished third and the women took second. That was in 2010 — the same year they swept all but two meets.
KANEOHE, Oahu — Led by individual wins from Micah Chelimo and Susan Tanui, the Alaska Anchorage men’s and women’s cross-country teams picked up their second consecutive team titles by sweeping the Hawaii Big Wave Invitational on Saturday morning.
The Seawolves, who also swept the Hawaii Pacific Invitational on Sept. 1, remained undefeated in the season, with the men downing BYU-Hawaii, 15-62, and the women defeating Hawaii Pacific, 20-58.
Chelimo, a senior from Kapkoi, Kenya, led UAA to a sweep of the top five with his second straight win with a time of 15:43, outdistancing sophomore Dylan Anthony (15:47) by four seconds. Senior Alfred Kangogo (16:00), sophomore Isaac Kangogo (16:03) and senior Jake Parisien (16:10) helped UAA to a perfect score going 3-5, respectively.
On the women’s side, Tanui (Eldoret, Kenya) earned her second collegiate win with a time of 18:09, while junior Ivy O’Guinn took third at 18:45. Also scoring for UAA were seniors Katie Krehlik (4th, 18:51) and Miriam Kipng’eno (5th, 18:52) and freshman Jaymi Bethea (7th, 18:52).
The Seawolves will have almost a month off before competing at the Western Washington Classic on Oct. 6 in Bellingham, Wash.
Article courtesy of http://www.goseawolves.com/.
UAA followed up their victory in Fairbanks with a solid win against Western Washington University (WWU) on Oct. 20 winning the match 3-0.
The ‘Wolves were lead by senior outside hitter Jackie Matthisen and junior setter Kimya Jafroudi.
Matthisen led the match with 12 kills and also set Seawolf history becoming the fifth player in UAA history to have 1,000 recorded career kills.
After a successful start to the UAA Cross Country Team’s 2011 season, they seem to have hit the calm before the eye of the storm.
So far, the team has been nearly untouchable in competition.
The ‘Wolves kick started their season on Sept. 1 with the UAA Invitational at Kincaid Park against the Slippery Rock where both men’s and women’s squads claimed victories. Junior Micah Chelimo led the men’s squad with a time of 15:08.9 minutes and senior Ruth Keino leading the women with a time of 18 minutes.
UAA followed up their first wins with another pair in Ka’a’awa, Hawaii on Sept. 3 where both squads dominated in the Hawaii Pacific Invitational. The men finished with a perfect score of 15 followed by BYU-Hawaii who scored 54. The women topped BYU-Hawaii 21-51 in their meet.
The Seawolves most recent triumph came on the same trip to the Aloha state at the Big Wave Invitational. Senior Yonatan Yilma crushed his opponents and led the men’s squad with a winning time of 15:45.7 minutes.
“Last year I was having a hard time,” Yilma said. “I was a transfer so I had a hard time keeping up with the guys. But this year, been working out over the summer so I’m improving a lot. I won two races this season and I’ve gotten third in one so I’m pretty happy with it.”
The women followed suit at the Big Wave, led by Keino, with a winning time of 15:45:93 minutes of their own and claimed a 19-point victory over BYU-Hawaii and also defeated the University of Hawaii, Hawaii-Hilo, and Chaminade.
Now, the challenge has not been the other universities, but rather the idea of staying sharp amidst a long layover between meets.
“We’ve done hard training for the last three weeks and this week we’re going to recover and I think it will help us a lot,” Yilma said. “Everybody’s been racing and we’ve been taking our time off and just recovering so that’s going to help us a lot at the next four races.”
Although the team is on a long break, teammates say it helps them to stay competitive.
“It’s just like races when your top competitor is your own teammate sometimes,” Yilma said. “We run as a group but at the same time whoever’s leading the pack, you’re trying to stay with them. So it does get really competitive and it comes down to the line of who wants it more.”
On Oct. 8, the Seawolves travel to compete in the Western Washington Invitational. Western Washington University (WWU) is a GNAC competitor so the team is under a lot of pressure to perform well against their rivals.
“I’m excited for it. I like the course we ran there twice last year that’s where regions was and the course kind of plays more to my advantage,” junior runner Jake Parisien said.
The ‘Wolves are feeling confident that they will do well after a three week recovery period to prepare them for the invitational, which is in Bellingham, Washington, despite the fact some of their runners are injured.
“Right now we’re kind of dinged up, two of our guys have injuries so they’ve been doing a lot of aqua jogging in the pool and stuff so hopefully we can last till the end of the year,” Parisien said. “Right now we’re looking pretty strong we’ve got some new guys on the team that are transfers and it’s all kind of coming together now.”
Yilma backs his teammate up regarding how the team is coming together.
“By the end of the season I think we’re going to be one big pack, a nice wolf pack I guess,” Yilma said.
Despite her quiet persona, Keino is helping lead the UAA Cross Country Women’s team to new heights in the West and National polls.
“She’s a quiet person, but she’s becoming more comfortable with the leadership that she has,” Head Coach Michael Friess said.
Friess said that Keino doesn’t have to say much to be a leader, she lets her actions talk for her.
“Ruth really pushes the rest of the team,” senior teammate Emma Bohman said.
In 2008, Keino joined the ‘Wolves, after leaving her hometown of Kapcheno, Kenya.
“The Kenyans, like Ruth, have such a simple life style back home, running for them really goes back to what running is all about, the simplicity,” Friess said. “Its not about them, its about family pride.”
Keino, a two-time All-GNAC honoree, has to be strong not only athletically but academically. For Kenyan runners like Keino, they want to give back to their families and villages, said Friess.
“A majority of our Kenyan athletes are nursing majors (like Keino),” Friess said. “They want to take care of people.”
Keino is not the only one in her family to attend, and compete at UAA, Graduate Assistant Coach David Kiplagat, for example, is a cousin to Keino.
“It was a great opportunity for my family, I had to take it,” Keino said.
The same season, Keino finished the NCAA’s in 74th place, with a time of 23:24, after she finished the GNAC championships with a season best placing in 10th (23:03).
“I wasn’t expecting to do that, I just did it,” Keino said.
She finished her 2008-09 season red shirting in track and field, but came back in the 2009 cross-country campaign stronger, Friess said.
As a sophomore, Keino helped the Seawolves with a program-best finish of 39th place at the NCAA Championships.
UAA also won their first West Region and GNAC championship titles last season with the help of Keino who respectively took fourth and fifth place finishes.
At the UAA Invitational, Keino placed at number one when she completed the 5k course in a time of 18:22.80.
She was again honored in 2009 and was one of seven ‘Wolves to be named to the GNAC All-Academic team.
“If Ruth were to focus on running, and really gave it everything she had, she could be even more remarkable,” Friess said.
In this 2010-11 season, Keino has already contributed to the Seawolves team by helping lead the sweep of the Hawaii Pacific Invite on Sept. 4. Keino placed in first with a time of 17:17 after battling with fellow teammate and All-American sophomore Miriam Kipng’eno.
“Ruth and Miriam really make a excellent team,” Friess said
The runners from the United States really learn a lot from Kenyan runners, they learn that this experience isn’t a right but a privilege, Friess said.
Following the Hawaii Pacific Invite, Keino again had a respectable first place (17:47) win in a 5K race, at the BYU-Invitational held on Sept. 11.
The BYU-invitational earned Keino GNAC Athlete of the Week, joining fellow teammate senior Marko Cheseto.
“Ruth is one of the best, maybe the best, female runner we’ve ever had,” Friess said.
The women of the cross-country program are currently ranked number three in the U.S Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association poll, partly credited to Ruth Keino herself, who seems to be an unstoppable force this season.
“Those polls really don’t mean much to us,” Friess said. “It’s nice to be recognized, but they don’t matter if we can’t succeed at the Regionals.”
“This is our transition time to get ready for regionals, we would like to push another two to three percent.”
The UAA men and women are in good health, high spirits, they are absorbing training but have a long way to go, according to Friess.
Coming from an extremely successful 2009-10 season, the Seawolves were able to sweep the Hawaii Pacific Invitational.
UAA is nationally ranked among Division II schools in pre-season polls, with the women ranked third, following Adams State and Grand Valley State, which rank number one and two, respectively.
The men also made the top 25, earning a rank of 17.
The Seawolves have been hard at work since their 2009-10 running season when the women finished in fifth place and the men in 17th. Although both the men and women are coming off historic seasons, head coach Michael Friess hopes for improvement this year.
“We’ve been working hard, it won’t be easy, but we can do it,” Friess said.
Despite losing a few athletes from last years squads, the Green and Gold showed that they were more than capapble of yet another title contending season. The Seawolves ended with a total of 15 points at last weekend’s invitational. Both men and women had eight runners in the top ten.
The women lost standout runner Laura Carr to graduation after finishing sixth at West Regionals and 63rd at last season’s Nationals.
The men’s team has lost junior runner Alfred Kangogo for the current season.
“Alfred will be red shirting due to personal medical reasons, but he is okay and will be back to run his senior year,” Friess said. “It’s hard to see a player like Kangogo sit, but it’s for the better.”
Kangogo placed 10th in Regionals and 94th at the NCAA Championships last year. He also recieved All-West Region honors.
Freshmen Ivy O’Guinn, Susan Bick and Katie Krehlik will be running for Seawolves for the first time this season.
“Those girls have great potential and it will be interesting to see how they compete at this first meet,” Friess said.
In Hawaii, Bick placed at fifth place with a time of 18:08. She followed three other women runners, such as junior All-American runner Shoshana Keegan, who placed fourth with a time of 17:44, and sophomore All-American runner Miriam Kipng’Eno, who placed second with a time of 17:19.
Keegan, who placed 53rd in the NCAA Championships last season, has made some improvments since the 2009-10 cross-country season.
“Keegan returned this year in great shape. We should see great things from her,” Coach Friess said.
However junior Ruth Keino led the women; she ended number one with a time of 14:45.
Senior Paul Rottich finished in fourth with a time of 14:45, and freshman William Ritekwiang had a respective fifth place finish (15:06).
Jake Parisien ran his first returning meet with the ‘Wolves. This will be his second season with the Seawolves even though he took the previous season off.
Parisien placed third, with a finishing time of 14:14. He followed fellow Seawolf and All-American runner Micah Chelimo, in second place (14:33), and the leader of the Seawolves, Marko Cheseto.
Cheseto, of Kapenguria, Kenya, who was the West Region Champion last year and finished 42nd in Nationals, placed first at the Sept. 4 meet with a time of 14:26.
Cheseto was selected as the GNAC Male Cross Country Runner, as well as the men’s West Region Athlete of the year last season. This season Cheseto has been selected as the GNAC Male Athlete of the Week, as of Tuesday Sept. 7.
“It’s sad to have players, leaders and runners like Marko go,” Friess said. “We love having them but it’s sad to see them go.”
This will be Cheseto’s last year running because he expects to graduate in the spring.
Junior Alex West just recieved a $10,000 scholarship from the National Consortium for Measurment and Signiture Intelligence Research. West currently has the highest GPA on the team and has been a GNAC All-Academic runner not only for cross-country, but track and field as well.
“They only have to miss two days of school due to the long weekend,” Coach Friess said. “We try hard to miss the least amount of school possible.”
Cross Country Year: Sophomore Previous School: Skyview HS Hometown: Soldotna, AK Major: Civil Engineering Cross Country Accomplishments: In high school Alex did not participate in cross-country, instead she spent her fall season playing on the volleyball team. Alex did run in track though in high school and took sixth place at state her senior year…
Seawolves cross country has been off to a great start this year. So far they have had two very successful showings. Both the men and women’s teams won in the home meet against Abilene Christian University. More recently at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, the women won the open race and the men placed a strong fourth in Div. I competition.
As of September 23rd, the women are ranked No. 2 in the West Region overall just behind Chico St. while the men are in the No. 3 spot behind Chico and Western Washington.
“Our women’s team has really come together,” Head Coach Michael Freiss said.
“They have a really strong team concept and turned in a notable performance at Sundodger.”
There were five UAA women in the top ten, including Ruth Jeptoo in second, and both Hallidie Wilt and Laura Carr in the top five. For the men, Micah Chelimo came in second followed by Marko Chesteo in fifth. Paul Rottich, Alfred Kangogo and Thomas Hill also logged impressive times in the 8k race.
“I’d say we have four of the strongest runners in the region and we’re developing a fifth, and probably two of the best in the conference,” Friess said.
“Much of our success can be attributed to the hard work that the athletes put in this summer,” Assistant Coach T.J. Garlatz said. “For the women, Jeptoo, Shoshana Keegan, Miriam Kipngeno and Wilt are so much stronger than what they were last year. For the men, Cheseto and Chelimo have run at a very high level for us this year.”
“Our entire focus is on preparing to run as fast as possible in the championship portion of our season,” Garlatz said.
“This is going to be a tough race to try to be our best, at this point in the season, we’re really just trying to get a feel for the course and the conditions,” said Friess of the Regional preview hosted by San Francisco State.
This meet is only the halfway point in the cross-country season. The Seawolves plan to progress their training to the next level and continue working towards the nationals.
Now it’s off to San Francisco for the West Region Preview meet on Oct 9.