Several GNAC track standouts continue to nationals

Lauren Cuddihy is a member of the UAA’s track and field team.

The UAA track and field team traveled to Oregon May 13-14 for one final track meet.

Volunteer coach Adam Commandeur was pleased with the results, even though the team struggled overall.

“The whole meet went pretty well,” Commandeur said. “We don’t have enough bodies to be competitive in the standings but individually, pretty good.”

Six conference titles were won by Seawolves with the majority of the team competing.

Vanessa Aniteye, who has been the team’s standout 400 meter runner since her freshman debut last year, finished the championships with a first place finish in the 400m with a time of 55.22. This earned her All-Region honors.

Aniteye also competed in the women’s 4x100m relay team, helping the team to a fourth place finish in the event.

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Christopher Brake, who had to redshirt the entire previous season due to injury, came back this year with two top-five finishes at the GNAC championships. His attempts at high jump led him to a first place finish, leaping over 6-foot, 7.5-inches.

He continued to solidify a third place attempt in triple jump with a 46-foot-2-inch jump.

Teammate Brandon Nicholson also competed in triple jump, and leaped further than Brake to secure a second place finish at 46-feet-10.25-inches.

Yemi at GNAC.jpg
Yemi Knight competes in an event at the Great Northwest Athletic conference on the weekend of May 13-14 in Oregon. Knight earned All-Region honors for the 4×400 meter relay. Photo credit: GNAC

Caroline Kurgat secured a first place finish in two different events. She was the only Seawolf to do this. In both the 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters, she finished with the fastest times at the meet, with a 34:49 and 16:53, respectively.

Kurgat’s time at the championships would currently rank the second highest in the nation, only to be beat out by her previous time of 32:33 from the Stanford Invitational in March.

Kurgat also competed in the 1,500 meter, holding the lead for the entire race but ultimately finishing in second place at 4:24.68, while the first place winner finished in 4:24.59.

All three of her events earned her All-Region honors. Kurgat was awarded the title of GNAC Female Track Athlete of the Meet.

Danielle McCormick, who previously won the indoor national champion in the 800m in March, competed in a close race but secured the first place finish. At 2:08.25, McCormick was challenged by the second place finisher, who ran a 2:08.29.

McCormick’s 800 meter race earned her All-Region honors.

The final win of the championships, on the Seawolves’ side, was from the previously qualified indoor nationals men’s 4×400 meter team. Members included Nicholas Taylor, Darrion Gray, Daniel Remington and Liam Lindsay.

Darrion:Oshane at GNAC.jpg
Darrion Gray, Oshane Hilton and Dillon Pratt compete at the Great Northwest Athletic conference May 13-14 in Oregon. Hilton and Gray competed in the 100 meter finals. Hilton finished third in the 100m with a time of 10.65 and Gray finished sixth in the 100m with a time of 10.88. Photo credit: GNAC

With a time of 3:14.21, the team was 0.21 seconds away from a provisional national qualifying time and over five seconds away from an automatic qualifying time.

Aniteye, McCormick, junior Yemi Knight and senior Tamara Perez earned All-Region honors for the 4×400 meter relay. However, their honors were awarded for a previous time run at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival, 3:43.01, currently putting them at eighth in Div. II.

The women’s 4x400m won fourth at the GNAC Championships.

Overall, the women’s team finished fifth with 100 points and the men’s team finished seventh with 72 points.

Sophomore Marie Ries helped score points in the 200 meter (2nd place, 24.74) and 100 meter (3rd place, 12.72), her 200 meter time is a personal-best and is now the fourth-best in program history.

Junior Oshane Hilton and Gray competed in the 100 meter finals. Hilton finished third in the 100m with a time of 10.65 which secured the new school record by just 0.03 seconds.

Gray finished sixth in the 100m (10.88) and also competed in the 200 meter finals (3rd place, 21.55). Lindsay also competed in the 200 meter, finishing two spots behind Gray at a time of 21.86.

“The sprint and jump team did very well. We had a school record in the 100-meter for Oshane after he missed out on qualifying for the 200-meter by one spot,” Commandeur said. “Darrion finished with a personal best in the 100 meter, [and] Marie [Ries] with a second place in the 200 meter into a headwind.”

Perez finished sixth in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:37.21.

Sophomore Emma Chelimo finished seventh in the 5,000-meters with a time of 17:33.78.

After the conclusion of all the conference championships in Div. II, the selections for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships were made and will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 24-26.

Aniteye, Knight, Kurgat, McCormick and Perez are the selections from the Seawolves.

Aniteye, who is currently ranked 19th in the country with a time of 55.03, will compete in the 400 meter.

Although she is the only sprinter traveling from UAA, she is excited for her race and to see her teammates compete in person.

“I think Dani [McCormick] and Caroline [Kurgat] have good chances of both doing great they’re in really good shape. I think Yemi [Knight] might surprise some people, especially after she has run some fast 400’s which are great speed work for her,” Aniteye said. “Also, our 4×4 could make it to finals if we all run our best, we definitely would have a chance.”

In her first year at UAA, Knight will continue to her second national championship with the Seawolves since transferring by competing in the 800 meters. With a time of 2:08.38 she is currently ranked ninth.

Kurgat is the only athlete from UAA to qualify for two individual events. She is ranked first nationally in both her events, the 10,000 meter and 5,000 meter. This is her third time competing in the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

McCormick will make her second debut at a national championship this year. After winning the 800 meter in the indoor championships, she will go into the outdoor championships ranked fourth with a time of 2:06.17.

Perez is the final qualifier, currently sitting at twelfth, she will compete in the 1,500 meter.

In addition, four of the five qualifiers make up the 4×400 meter relay from UAA that will compete in the national meet. McCormick, Knight, Aniteye and Perez are ranked ninth with a time of 3:43.01.

The team will head to North Carolina for the national meet at the end of May.

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