Cross-country teams debut seasons with in-state rivalry meet

The UAA men’s and women’s cross-country teams traveled to Fairbanks on Aug. 31 to compete against UAF’s cross-country for a season opener. The Seawolves came out ahead of the Nanooks in both individual and team results.

Emmah Chelimo runs in a cross-country event for the UAA Seawolf team. Photo courtesy of Ian Marks.

Ryan McWilliams, the newly appointed head coach after the departure of long-time coach Michael Friess, was pleased with how the first meet went.

“We are really excited to get the season started. This was a good early season race,” McWilliams said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but the teams are ready and excited to put the work in to get where we want to be as a team. I am really proud of how our teams competed.”

For the women’s race, senior Emmah Chelimo finished in first place with a time of 18:33.12, nearly side-by-side with her junior teammate Nancy Jeptoo, who finished second in 18:33.89.

Behind them, senior Yvonne Jeschke finished in third place (19:36.00) in her first-ever cross-country race. Jeschke competed for the Seawolves track and field team for the previous four years but has never participated in cross-country for UAA.

Freshman Joan Kipsanai wasn’t far behind, coming in at 20:12.13 to solidify a fifth-place finish. In addition, sophomore Ruth Cvancara placed sixth (20:19.35), Maria Aceves Espinoza placed 10th (21:06.35) and Arielle Himelbloom finished 17th (22:49.76).

“It was a nice rolling course except for a single-track section at 2K, which was kind of awkward to run on. A great day out, little cool in the morning but then perfect temperature by the time we started,” Cvancara said. “Our hopes for this season are first and foremost to stay healthy, and making it to nationals with the team again this year would be incredible.”

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Overall, the UAA women’s team finished ahead of UAF, with a final score 17-39.

As for the men’s race, junior Wesley Kirui placed first overall in the seven-kilometer race with a time of 21:59.68. Behind Kirui, in a back-to-back finish, junior Felix Kemboi finished second (22:11.15), while junior Nickson Koech placed third (22:57.16).

“The meet went pretty well, and I think as an individual I did great. In addition, as a team, we had a fabulous opening victory for the season, and we hope to even achieve more than what we did today. We work as a team and we win as a team but also as an individual,” Kirui said.

In addition, sophomore Jacob Moos placed fifth (23:39.59), freshman Skylar McIntyre placed sixth (23:53.03), freshman Niko Latva-Kiskola finished at eighth (24:17.31), senior Eduardo Orozco ran in at 12th (24:47.98), sophomore Faisal Ibrahim at 13th (24:52.71) and freshman Titus Kangogo placed 14th (24:55.47).

Overall, the UAA men’s team overtook UAF, with a final score 17-41.

The Seawolves will continue their season at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet in Sacramento, California on Sept. 28.