Only UAA GNAC Runner of the Week

In the brief span of the UAA cross country season, the team and many individuals have proven themselves after having only run in two meets.

Chelimo - New Balance Meet - SKip Hickey.jpg
Emmah Chelimo has placed first in several meets, including the New Balance XC Classic, which awarded her the title of GNAC Newcomer of the Year. Photo credit: Skip Hickey

The first meet of the season was an in-state duel against UAF at the New Balance XC Classic on Sept. 8. Due to her performance at the meet, junior Emmah Chelimo was awarded Great Northwest Athletic Conference Runner of the Week.

The award did not come as a surprise to most, since Chelimo performed exceptionally well the previous year. She was named GNAC Newcomer of the Year by placing 8th at the conference championships and continuing on to compete at nationals.

Head Coach Michael Friess was certainly optimistic about Chelimo, saying that he had a high outlook for her this season.

“Well, the women’s team is coming back, they’re all returners and we have some pretty decent talent there,” Friess said. “Emmah Chelimo is at the top of the talent on [our team right now].”

The Kenya local kept up her impressive stats by running well enough at the New Balance Classic to not just place in the top runners, but also win the whole race.

For the entire 6-kilometer race, Chelimo finished at No. 1 with a time of 21 minutes and 27 seconds. Nancy Jeptoo, Danielle McCormick, Ruth Cvancara and Grace Gannon rounded off the next four top spots, respectively.

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“The team did pretty good and coach [Friess] was pretty impressed with how good the start of the season was,” Chelimo said.

Chelimo did not slow down. The team went on to compete in the UNLV Invitational on Sept. 22. Again, Chelimo came out on top with her another first place finish.

“I liked the race a lot [at UNLV]. The course was pretty tough, but overall I think the performance was pretty good for me, being the start of the season,” Chelimo said.

Chelimo finished the 5-kilometer race in 18 minutes and 54 seconds, which is just four seconds ahead of Jeptoo, who finished second.

Reflecting on both her races, as well as her teammates’, Chelimo knew there couldn’t have been a better way to run the first two races. Following the UNLV Invitational, the Seawolves had a month off the train, which Chelimo realized is a good thing after a positive start.

“All we need to do is keep running hard, but overall this was a really good start to the season, which is good motivation,” Chelimo said.

The next meet for the runners is the Western Washington Invitational on Oct. 20.

“We only have one meet over the weekend before we go to conference and everyone is working hard [for those meets],” Chelimo said.

Following the WWU Invit, in Bellingham, Washington, the Seawolves will have two weeks to re-group before heading to Monmouth, Oregon for the GNAC Championships.