Seawolves running to success

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The women’s team placed third overall at the Div. II Conference Crossover on Oct. 7. Photo credit: @GoSeawolves

Karolin Anders is a former member of the UAA track and field team.

Returning to action nearly a month after their last competition, UAA’s cross-country team traveled across the United States to compete in the Div. II Conference Crossover in Romeoville, Illinois.

Due to legislative changes, altering the qualification process for the NCAA Championships, it is now taken into account how programs perform against other teams outside their own region. The top three teams of each of the eight regions receive an automatic bid to the national meet. Additionally, another eight teams will be determined according to their performances throughout the season with weight given to the Conference Crossover.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, the women lined up at 7 a.m., followed by the men at 7.45 a.m.

Senior two-time All-American Caroline Kurgat of Eldoret, Kenya, returned to action after missing the last meet and ultimately collected her first victory of the season. She finished the 6K course in 21 minutes, 18.9 seconds, twelve seconds ahead of second place finisher Sarah Berger of Walsh University. Kurgat led the team to a strong third place finish in the competitive field. She was followed by her teammates Zennah Jepchumpa (15th, 22:12,0), Emmah Chelimo (26th, 22:30.4), Danielle McCormick of Soldotna (30th, 22:33.0) and Mariah Burroughs of Wasilla (57th, 23:00.0).

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Caroline Kurgat took the win at the Div. II Conference Crossover in 21 minutes, 18.9 seconds. Photo credit: GoSeawolves

According to team-captain Mariah Burroughs, the “Shewolves,” as they refer to themselves, pursued a race strategy that led them to success.

“We’re all very proud of how we competed together. We went out assertive, held good positioning in the middle and then tried to have strong finishes. Overall, we agreed our start was the best as we all went out fast,” Burroughs said.

Assistant Coach T.J. Garlatz was satisfied with the women’s team and predicts continuing success after their performance at the Conference Crossover.

“The women’s team as a whole really stood out and ran well. It was exciting to go in as underdogs and beat a whole slew of nationally ranked teams, including top 10 teams,” Garlatz said. “We know that we will be doing better and better as we get into the championship season, but today was a great start. Caroline [Kurgat] beating a strong field was very impressive and shows she will be a contender in all of her races this fall.”

On the men’s side, Edwin Kangogo produced the best result for UAA by placing 19th. He finished the 8K course in 25 minutes, 29.3 seconds, about 50 seconds behind overall winner Gatien Airiau of Academy of Arts (24:42.7). Kangogo led the team to an overall sixth-place finish.

Kangogo was followed by Felix Kemboi (23rd, 25:31.7), Nickson Koech (42nd, 25:48.4), Jorge Sanchez (75th, 26:12.4) and Nathan Kipchumba (78th, 26:14.8).

Following the women’s success, the men’s team was not able to present the strength that they have shown all season. Kaleb Korta of Galena is positive that the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship in two weeks will turn out differently.

“Our team knows that we can race better and that we have the capability of racing better,” Korta said. Our plan for the next two weeks is to narrow our focus, train hard, stay healthy, and get ready to bring it at GNAC.”

The Seawolves will look to defend both team titles at the GNAC Championships on Saturday, Oct. 21 in Bellingham, Washington. The men’s team has won seven consecutive team titles since 2009 and the women have won seven out of the last eight team titles.