Cross-country dominates conference meet

After months of hard training and long runs, the Seawolves were put to what could be the final test of the season. With an early 9 a.m. race scheduled, UAA traveled to Bellingham, WA on Saturday, Oct. 22 to step up the line and race their hardest. With this being one of the last meets of the season, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross-Country Championships, the Seawolves did not disappoint.

Not only did one team win, but both the men’s and women’s team won overall. This being the seventh straight win for the men’s team with a GNAC title. They accumulated a total of 31 points while the second place team, Simon Fraser, was a stretch behind at 60 points.

With such a history of wins, the teams knew that they were fully capable, but they just had to stay focused.

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The women's cross country team poses after their win at the GNAC Cross-Country Championships in Bellingham, WA. Photo credit: Mariah Burroughs

“We were prepared to keep the tradition going. Having consecutive team champions and consecutive individual champions put in a lot of pressure, but we handled it well and assertively throughout the race and thankfully kept the streaks for another year,” overall second place finisher Michel Ramirez said going into the race.

Not only did the team earn overall titles, but UAA runners captured both the top individual finish in each race.

The men’s team placed with Edwin Kangogo (24:54) as the top male finisher, Michel Ramirez (24:56) just behind him for a second place finish and Henry Cheseto (25:19) at fourth. They also had 4 more men in the top 20 finishers, totaling that out with seven Seawolves in the top 20.

The women’s team also secured an overall win and a Seawolf in the top individual finish. With a seventh straight title win, junior Mariah Burroughs knew their hard work didn’t go unnoticed.

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UAA's men's cross country team poses with the state flag after coming away with its seventh straight title at the GNAC Cross-Country Championships on Oct. 22. Photo credit: Mariah Burroughs
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“We got out really well and packed up. We pushed super hard and stayed positive. Weather was great, coach was happy,” Burroughs said.

All-American’s Caroline Kugart (21:17) and Joyce Chelimo (21:50) both captured spots in the top five at first and fifth, respectively. After that Tamara Perez (22:23) pulled in at 10th, and then a trio of Zennah Jepchumba (22:35), Kaitlyn Maker (22:36) and Burroughs (22:39) crossed the line together at 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively.

With such a close turnout and a majority of the UAA women placing in the top 20, the credit the women give is to the bond they have formed through running.

“What really helped us was the team efforts that we have been putting in during our runs,” Chelimo said after the race.

Overall, the UAA cross-country team represented the school and state exceptionally well. Ramirez realizes that the team is improving with every meet, so with another chance to represent UAA they will travel to Billings, MT on Nov. 5 to run in the NCAA West Regional Championships.