Emmah Chelimo becomes West Region champion two years in a row

The Seawolf cross-country teams traveled to Monmouth, Oregon on Nov. 9 to compete in the NCAA Division II West Region Championships. Seven men and nine women from UAA represented the university in the 28-team meet. The women, in a field of 186 runners, completed a 6,000-meter race while the men ran against 185 competitors in a 10,000-meter race.

Senior Emmah Chelimo finished first at the NCAA Division II West Region Championships in Oregon on Nov. 9. Photo courtesy of Skip Hickey.

Senior Emmah Chelimo finished at the front of the women’s pack, repeating her status as the West Region Champion. With a 27-second gap between her and the second-place finisher, Chelimo was far ahead of any other competitors.

Chelimo also improved her 2018 time by just over 30 seconds.

In the pack trailing Chelimo, junior Nancy Jeptoo finished just 31 seconds behind Chelimo, earning herself an overall fourth-place finish.

Jeptoo finished the race in second place in 2018. However, in 2018, she finished with a time of 21:08 in comparison to her most recent time of 20:53, improving by 15 seconds.

Both Chelimo and Jeptoo qualified for the NCAA Division II National Championships on Dec. 23.

In addition to Chelimo and Jeptoo, three other Seawolves finished in the top 100 for the women’s race.

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Joan Kipsanai finished 30th with a time of 21:36, Ruth Cvancara placed 49th, finishing in 22:01 and Yvonne Jeschke completed the trio with a 68th place finish in 22:12.

Following them were two other Seawolves. Alfin Nyamasyo placed 149th with a time of 23:45, followed by Maria Aceves Espinoza at 167th (24:34).

Overall, the women’s team placed fourth out of a total of 127 teams. The Seawolves accumulated 146 points, with Cal State East Bay (third, 142 points), Northwest Nazarene (second, 134 points) and Chico State (first, 75 points) ahead of them.

Assistant cross-country coach Michael Friess was satisfied with the women’s results.

“Our women ran well today. Emmah [Chelimo] looked dominating today. Ruth [Cvancara] and Yvonne [Jeschke] ran much better today. While we finished fourth, we have a strong chance of an at-large bid. Very proud of how this team really trained their hearts out this season, especially with all the issues we faced this summer. They brought the best versions of themselves today,” Friess said.

As for the men’s team, two Seawolves placed in the top-ten, while five of the seven runners placed in the top-100.

Junior Felix Kemboi was the top finisher for the Seawolves, placing eighth with a time of 30:11 in the 10-kilometer race. Just behind him, at ninth, was junior Wesely Kirui, finishing two seconds after Kemboi at 30:13.

Sophomores Faisal Ibrahim (31:36) and Jacob Moos (31:47), as well as senior Eduardo Orozco (31:47), finished off the team’s top-100 scoring, with 60th, 69th and 70th place finishes, respectively.

Junior Nikson Koech trailed in at 126th with a time of 32:48 with freshman Skyler McIntyre (33:36) finishing behind him at 157th.

Overall, the men’s team finished eighth out of 28 teams. With a score of 216, they were significantly behind the top-three teams: Chico State (first, 43 points), Cal Poly Ponoma (second, 115 points) and Cal State San Marcos (third, 121 points).

The Seawolves’ future for the 2019 cross-country season will be determined by the NCAA at-large selections announced later this week. An at-large selection will allow the entire team to compete in the NCAA National Championships in addition to the individual qualifiers, Chelimo and Jeptoo.

The selections are scheduled to be announced Nov. 11 with the NCAA Division II Championships taking place on Dec. 23.