Renergized runners return to competition

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.

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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.