The UAA cross-country meet at Kincaid Park was a starting line for the season, where the men and women both finished in in the top four spots for both teams.
With a 18 minute finish in the 5K race was senior Ruth Keino crossing the finishing line 46 seconds before the second place finisher.
In the 2010 cross country season Keino became the highest placing Seawolf at NCAA Championships with a seventh place finish in December. The UAA women’s team finished sixth overall. At the Great Northwestern Athletic Conference (GNAC) Keino placed in third behind teammate junior Miriam Kipng’eno.
Keino of Kapcheno, Kenya and Kipng’eno of Eldoret, Kenya are will be the leaders on the UAA women’s side, according to head coach Michael Friess.
“Obviously, they are going to be our top two by the end of the year,” Friess said. “We need them to be running fast, placing highly, and we need them to be pushed by other athletes. Susan Bick is one of them that can do it, and we will see what the newcomers can add, I think they are very talented but we will see.”
The women have the potential to preform as well as last year, but how that will translate into team victories, only time will tell, but the team is showing a lot more depth that in the previous season, according to Friess.
“We don’t really know how the other teams are stacked up yet,” Friess said.
In the preseason poll the women ranked five, and were able to prove themselves September first when they ended the race against Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, who are ranked seven in the pre-season polls.
Following Kenio in second, third, fourth and fifth place was sophomore Susan Bick with a time of 18:46, freshman Bryn Haebe (18:56), Kipng’eno (18:59) and senior Shoshanna Keegan (19:01).
With a respective sixth place finish was Stephani Case (19:02), of Slippery Rock.
Keegan, UAA runner is an athlete that Coach Friess hopes to see preform well in her last season.
“Hopefully, she’s got that senior, this is my last year gotta get it done attitude.” Friess said. “It will definitely be fun to see.”
The men were led by junior Micha Chelimo, with a finishing time of 15:09.
Compared to last season the men seem to be “lacking depth”, according to Friess.
“We have good runners, but not very many good runners,” Friess said. “If everyone runs to their potential then I think we will be hard to beat but if we start to slide we will have real weakness.”
All-American Chelimo, finished 21 in the the 2010 NCAA Championship, last fall. He was also able to grab all conference honors at the GNAC Championships where he placed second.
In the last season the UAA cross country teams swept GNAC, when then senior Marko Chesesto got his third conference win.
“You don’t replace a guy like him, you just kind of move on.” Friess said with a smile.
Cheseto may be back for track and field but has run out of cross country eligability.
In second at the UAA Invitational Sept. 1 was Alfred Kangogo (15:29). Kangogo was forced to red-shirt in the 2010 season due to injury.
Kangogo and Chelimo are going to be the “key to success” for the UAA men this year, according to Friess.
With respective third and fourth place finishes was senior Yontana Yilma (15:34) and freshman Dylan Anthony (15:41).
Denying the UAA men a perfect score was Michael Adams of Slippery Rock, who placed fifth (16:06). In pre-season polls the UAA men are ranked 12.
For now the teams seems to be off to another historic season but there is still opportunity for illness and injury according to Friess.
“Someone could really shoot up or someone could really shoot down, but overall I think we are pretty positive about our chances,” Friess said.
For now the key to their training is maintain, as they prepare for big schools and hard competitors like Simon Fraisure, according to Friess.
“It’s always a fun experience, I mean each team creates its own story,” Friess said. “Each and every team is a separate chapter in the book and we will see what kind of chapter these guys write.”
The ‘Wolves’ will travel to Hawaii for the Hawaii Pacific Invitational, on Sept. 8.