On Saturday, Nov. 17, after a resounding success at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships, the Seawolves set off to Billings, Montana to compete in their fourth race of the season.
After claiming GNAC Team of the Week following the conference championships, the Seawolves did not disappoint at the regional championships.
Both the men’s and women’s teams took seven of their top runners to the NCAA West Regional Championships to compete against some of the best runners in the country.
At the meet, there were a total of 280 men and women. Every single one of the UAA men placed in the top 100 and all but one UAA women placed in the top 100 as well.
Head coach Michael Friess was satisfied with the outcome of the meet.
“I was proud of our teams today. It is good to know that we are going and we don’t have to wait and see if we earned an at-large spot,” Friess said. “Emmah [Chelimo], Nancy [Jeptoo] and Zennah [Jepchumba] all raced how they have been training.”
Of the women, Chelimo still reigns as undefeated after finishing No. 1 in the regional championships.
Chelimo finished with a time of 20:57 in the 6-kilometer race, just 11 seconds ahead of teammate Jeptoo at 21:08.
After the race, Chelimo was pleased with her results and said that if it wasn’t for her teammates and her training, then she would not have been able to race the way she did.
Following Chelimo and Jeptoo, Jepchumba was the final female runner from UAA to place in the top 10; at No. 6, Jepchumba finished in 21 minutes and 23 seconds.
The remaining women trailed behind in 11th (Danielle McCormick, 21:35), 46th (Ruth Cvancara, 22:20), 84th (Kimberly Coscia, 22:58) and 130th (Riley Burroughs, 24:00).
Due to their high scoring positions, the women finished in first place out of the 26 scoring teams. With a score of 66 points, UAA was 19 points ahead of No. 2 Simon Fraser (85 points) with Chico State just behind them (88 points).
Not much farther behind, the men’s team finished in third overall. With 116 points, the Seawolves were solidly in 3rd place due to No. 2 Simon Fraser being 53 points ahead of them and No. 1 Chico State 77 points ahead.
Individually, the Seawolves had several runners place in the top 25.
“We went out strong today. Felix [Kemboi] nearly came away with his first region title, and we had four men earn all-region which was awesome,” Friess said.
Less than one second behind the No. 1 finisher, Kemboi finished the men’s 10-kilometer race in 30 minutes and 50 seconds.
Also in the top 25 was Wesley Kirui who finished in 31 minutes and 4 seconds for fifth place; in 19th was Jorge Sanchez, and in 23rd was Nickson Koech.
Also filling in after them was Drew Johnson (No. 67), Kaleb Korta (No. 72) and Faisal Ibrahim (No. 92).
Due to their success at the West Regional Championships and with both teams placing in the overall top 3, they will now continue on to compete in the NCAA National Championships.
Currently, both teams are ranked seventh nationally by the USTFCCAA National Polls. The men’s team has finished in the top 5 at nationals for the past 18 years, whereas the women have finished in the top 5 for the past 15.
After success in both conference and regional championships, the same 14 will head to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the next challenge. The NCAA DII National Championships will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1. For full results and a full schedule visit www.goseawolves.com.