“Whoa Nellie!” If Keith Jackson were a college cross country running commentator instead of for college football he'd probably use his signature saying to describe two University of Alaska Anchorage men's runners.
Andy Elvester and Erik Strabel are two of the staples on the men's roster.
UAA head cross country coach Michael Friess believes the two are just touching on their running abilities.
“There's no question,” he says. “Runners reach their peak in their 30s. There's no reason they can't continue to peak and condition.”
Strabel agrees with his coach with a bravado and confidence that almost justifies his abilities.
“I'd have to say that's true,” the Palmer native says. “I think it's just a lot of consistency and in training.”
A statement that Elvester echoes.
“It's definitely building up in training,” the Forest Lake, Minn. native says. “Keep it as fluid as possible and there's always a chance to run better.”
The duo has paced the Seawolf top-five runners this season. With their strong finish in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships Oct. 13 at Kincaid Park, Strabel led the men in 10th place to earn all-conference recognition while Elvester finished 16th, the two were optimistic about their chances heading into the NCAA West Regional at Bellingham, Wash. Nov. 3.
"I'm excited,” Elvester says. “It's a course I'm comfortable with, I like it and it's hilly.” “I'm not worried at all,” Strabel says. “I'm hoping for an above-average day and hoping to add a couple weeks to our season.”
Elvester finished 16th to Strabel's 13th, packing the course behind Tobias Schwoerer, the team's top finisher, in second.
They lived up to the hype. For now anyway. But they've got a year together left on the squad and a trip to Nationals Nov. 17 to prove it.
“By and large they're our most consistent runners,” he says. “It's reflected in their quality of style and coach-ability.”
He says they both run smooth, using their lower bodies well to balance their strides and have a good cadence on the courses.
The men finished third as a team at the West Regional, and for the entire 2001 season have been bolstered by having a pair of runners who are not only complimentary on the race course, but off it as well.
“(Andy's) a tough competitor,” Strabel says. “He's improved more than I have the last couple of years, put in his dues and it shows.” “I don't know about that,” Elvester answers when grilled about his teammate's comments. “I try to train smart and lead by example, like Erik does,” he says. “He's a quiet guy who performs every time we race. Highly dependable.”
Friess thinks the sky's the limit for the two, but is also quick to point out that two runners does not a team make.
“We have a lot of leaders on this team, a lot of guys who pull together and pool information,” he says.
With the eligibility of captain Vernon Campbell running out after the season, the Seawolf men will be looking for a new leader, to label that is.
Anyone asked Erik or Elvester, “Double E” if you will, what they think about their chances.