UAA track and field team finishes a busy season

The UAA track and field teams have completed another successful indoor and outdoor season, bringing home two men’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference titles and an outdoor GNAC title for the women.

Starting with the indoor season, the men won their third-straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference title, while the women finished third collecting their fifth consecutive top three GNAC finish. The UAA men’s team garnered an overwhelming win over Western Oregon, 154-82, while Northwest Nazarene finished third with 78 points.

Before the GNAC championships started, the Seawolves combined for 19 NCAA times/marks in three weekends of competition throughout the season – including 16 with top-20 rankings. Both Seawolf teams were ranked 24th nationally going into the conference championships. In the top 20 of the women’s side were the women’s distance medley relay who ranked fifth (Tamara Perez, Mary-Kathleen Cross, Danielle McCormick, and Caroline Kurgat), while the women’s 4×400 meter team ranked 8th (Jamie Ashcroft, Vanessa Aniteye, Hayley Benzanson, and Cross).

For the men’s team, the Seawolves’ highest ranking came from senior Dominik Notz in the 5K at fifth. Notz posted a season-best time of 14:03.95 and ranked 11th in the 3K at 8:11.10. The men’s 4×400-meter relay ranked sixth at 3:13.75 (Nicholas Taylor, Liam Lindsay, Darrion Gray and Adam Commandeur), and senior Travis Turner ranked at 19 in the heptathlon at 4,951 points.

Before the season started, senior Tevin Gladden outlined his season goals.

“For me I set forth the goal of getting four All-Americans and jumping seven feet,” Gladden said. “In the indoor season I only got one All-American, but as long as you’re setting a bunch of goals and achieve one of those goals I’d feel satisfied with that.”

Gladden competed in jumping events throughout the season. At the GNAC Indoor Championships, he took fourth in high jump (6-7), sixth in triple jump (45-4.5) and ninth in long jump (22-0.75), earning him two All-Conference honors.

Gladden described the event as one his best of the season.

“Our conference meet at indoor was pretty good. I started to get back into my form in the high jump, and in long jump I beat my personal record by a foot,” Gladden said.

The Seawolves concluded the indoor season when they sent 14 athletes to the NCAA Division II Championships in Birmingham, Ala, and finished with seven more NCAA qualifying times/marks. UAA returned home with a program best with 12 All-American honors. Seniors Ashcroft (200m, 4x4mR) and Kurgat (3K) were two recipients of those honors.

“The indoor season went great. I felt good about my improvements throughout the season. I wasn’t that fit at the beginning of the season but worked hard and got much better,” Kurgat said. “I was excited for more competitions, but unfortunately had to red-shirt for the outdoor season.”

The Seawolves landed 18 members on the All-West Region team, collected eight conference titles and 30 All-Conference honors. Ashcroft was named NCAA West Region Track Athlete of the Year and the GNAC’s Most Outstanding Track Performer, while head coach Michael Friess was named NCAA West Region Coach of the Year for the men’s team.

With the indoor season over, the Seawolves transitioned to the outdoor season.

For the outdoor season, the Seawolves had a combined 24 NCAA times/marks, including two automatic NCAA qualifying times/marks (ANQ). Leading the way with an ANQ in the heptathlon was senior Karolin Anders who ranked fifth in Division II. The other ANQ went to Notz in the 10K with a time of 29:12.23 at the Mt. SAC Relays and was ranked sixth in the nation.

Leading into the conference championships the Seawolves looked to defend their outdoor championships.

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The women combined for four individual titles and 16 all-conference performances throughout the event, while the men’s team added five titles and 15 all-conference accolades.

The Seawolves swept the GNAC Outdoor Championships as the men’s team defended its title and the women’s team won its third in five years.

Gladden also broke a decades long school record in the high jump with a leap of 6-11.

“This conference meet was pretty good for me. I didn’t get the long jump as well as I wanted to but I got decent marks,” Gladden said. “Triple jump was pretty good, I got a personal best in the high jump which I haven’t done in while and I got us some crucial points to win us another outdoor title.”

To conclude the outdoor season, the Seawolves sent 13 qualifiers to the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships in Florida.

Anders qualified in the high jump and heptathlon, and Aniteye qualified in the 400 meters and relay in her NCAA debut. Notz qualified for both the 5K and 10K for the men. McCormick qualified for the 800 meter and making up the men’s relay was Commandeur, Turner, Lindsay and Taylor, while Aniteye, McCormick, Bezanson and Cross will be the representatives for the women’s relay. Gladden qualified in the high jump and would make his NCAA outdoor debut.

Competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase was junior Edwin Kangogo, while junior Mariah Burroughs represented the women in the race.

Burroughs described her thought process going into the 3K steeplechase

“At the beginning of the season, you have barriers and [a] water pit to jump over, so at the starting line you’re kinda like am I going to remember to jump and go over these especially without the dome, cause I don’t really anywhere to practice,” Burroughs said. “Farther on in the season though its a lot more focused. So at nationals I didn’t have exact thoughts it’s more of a blank mind.”

“I was seated 21st in nationals, which is last, but I ended up finishing 16th which was four places away from finals,” Burroughs said.

Kangogo, on the other hand, did make finals. Kangogo, who was new to the 3K steeplechase, finished sixth with a time of 8:56.21, earning him another All-American honor.

“I am happy with this season as a whole and with the challenges presented to us,” Kangogo said. “This season I’ve been trying to stay focused and just forget about anything going on outside. This was my best meet and earning an All-American in the steeplechase was amazing.”

Combined, the Seawolves garnered eight First-Team, All-American honors and two Second-Team All-American awards throughout the NCAA championships.

The Seawolf men, ranked 21st nationally ,headed into the weekend and finished the championships with 15 points to tie for 13th. Meanwhile, the 25th ranked women’s team, finished tied for 62nd with two points. St. Augustine’s won the men’s competition with 58 points for their fifth straight, while West Texas A&M earned the women’s crown with 64 points. The 64 points are the most points scored by the winning team since Lincoln University scored 64 back in 2014.

The team has lost a significant number of strong contributors after this season to graduation. With many gone, the track and field team will look to add many strong new faces to the program to continue UAA’s dominance in the GNAC.