Jeptoo and Kemboi win first cross-country meet in three weeks

In just their third meet of the season and their final meet before the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championship, the Seawolf cross-country team competed in the Western Washington Cross Country Classic. They traveled to WWU in Washington to compete in the women’s 6-kilometer and the men’s 10-kilometer runs on Oct. 12.

Prior to the meet, the UAA women’s team was ranked 15th in the U.S. Track Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association NCAA Division II National Coaches’ Poll, while the men were not ranked within the top-25.

At the WWU Cross Country Classic, both the UAA men’s and women’s teams placed third overall, with Seawolves taking the individual title in both races.

UAA junior Nancy Jeptoo placed first in the 6K cross-country meet on Oct. 12 with a time of 21:36.1. Photo courtesy of Ian Marks.

With her second-fastest 6-kilometer time ever and first-ever individual win, junior Nancy Jeptoo placed first in the women’s race. She finished with a time of 21:36.1, just four seconds ahead of her teammate, senior Emmah Chelimo.

“[Although it was wet and rainy], I didn’t think the weather was that bad, at least, I took it as a lesson since I usually press hard at the start then fade at the end but this time round I was patient until the end and I performed well,” Jeptoo said.

Assistant coach Michael Friess was excited about Jeptoo’s progress in the race.

“I really liked how patient Nancy was. She did not press until she could finish. She really matured as a runner [at this meet],” Friess said.

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Chelimo finished in 21:40.5, which is 35 seconds slower than her personal best of 21:05 that she ran on Sept. 28 at the Capital Cross Challenge.

Six other UAA women competed and finished the race in a field of 122 runners.

Sophomore Joan Kipsanai placed 28th with a time of 22:41. Just behind her, junior Ruth Cvancara finished in 23:09 to place 38th.

“[The meet] went really well. Wonderful course, it was a little chilly but not too bad. I was really happy with how my race went,” Cvancara said.

Senior Yvonne Jeschke was the final Seawolf to place in the top-50, earning a spot at 44th by finishing in 23:16.

Junior Maria Aceves Espioza (86th, 24:52), sophomore Alfin Nyamasyo (89th, 24:54) and sophomore Arielle Himelbloom (113th, 26:25) also competed in the 6K.

As for the men’s team, junior Felix Kemboi won the overall title with a time of 31:37.6, just three seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Ten seconds later, junior Wesley Kirui placed third overall, with a time of 31:50.

“I was happy to defend my title. Though the course was super wet, I think we all gave our best. We really did good as a team and we are now focusing on the GNAC championship and getting all teammates out of injuries to be ready for the battle,” Kemboi said.

Also scoring in the top-50, sophomores Faisal Ibrahim (33:25) and Jacob Moos (33:28) finished back-to-back at 45th and 46th.

Freshman Skylar McIntyre (34:04), senior Eduardo Orozco (34:12) and freshman Niko Latva-Kiskola (34:47) also finished at 72nd, 75th and 95th, respectively.

Next, the Seawolves will head to the GNAC Championships in Billings, Montana on Oct. 26.