Track and Field qualifies nine athletes for NCAA’s

Photo courtesy of Amanda Umberger

Nine conference titles. 14 All-GNAC performances. Nine GNAC All-Academic selections.

Things look pretty good for the Seawolf Track and Field team who finished up the GNAC Championships May 14-15 in record fashion.

“The team competed very strongly,” TJ Garlatz said, UAA assistant Track and Field coach. “Obviously, we’re a small team, but we won all the events on the men’s side from the 400m event up, which is pretty phenomenal.”

With the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships coming up May 27-29, the Seawolves will look to be strong contenders in every event.

This is because nine athletes (five women and four men) qualified for the NCAA’s and will represent the green and gold in Charlotte, N.C.

The Seawolf team is stacked with talent on both the women and men’s squads, but it is the trio of distance runners on the men’s team that has high hopes for a strong showing at the highest level.

- Advertisement -

Sophomore Alfred Kangogo, junior Marko Cheseto and freshman Micah Chelimo have all helped lead the way for the Seawolves team. The trio helped the men’s team to a fourth place finish at the GNAC Championships.

Kangogo won the Most Outstanding Male Performer award during the weekend due to his victories in the 800m (1:54.51) and 1,500m (3:49.03 – GNAC and UAA record), as well as an eighth place in the 5,000

m. Add a second place in the 3,000m Steeplechase and it’s easy to see why Kangogo racked up the most points individually in the men’s championships.

In that same 5,000m race, Cheseto won the event with a record setting 14:37.18 time. He walked away with a victory in the 10,000m (31:23.03). He also finished runner up to Kangogo in the 1,500m.

Garlatz is used to this kind of performance from a runner of Cheseto’s caliber.

“He became the first GNAC athlete to break the 14 minute mark. It was the best distance race I’ve ever seen a UAA athlete run,” Garlatz said when reflecting on Cheseto’s 5,000m race at the Occidental Invitational May 8 this season. “And he basically did it on his own, it was a piece of art.”

Rounding out the trio is Chelimo, who has not shied away from the spotlight in his rookie season. Chelimo ran to a record setting time of 9:02.79 in the 3,000m Steeplechase event. He also finished third in the 5,000m and fourth in the 1,500m events.

Scariest though is that they will all be back next season for both the Track and Field team as well as the UAA Cross Country team.

“You never look to the future, just because its whatever, whose to say thing won’t change, but it’s very exciting to think about,” Garlatz said.

The team is not only getting it done on the track, but in the classroom as well. Landing nine ‘Wolves on the academic list was very exciting for the coaching staff.

“It says a lot as it takes focus to be a good athlete and it takes focus to be a good student,” Garlatz said. “They’re here to be both (students and athletes) and for them to achieve in both is basically reaching the pinnacle of the sport.”

Now, it’s time for the team to prepare for the NCAA’s and focus on individual races. Of course, they already know what they will be competing in as well which makes it easier to zero in on certain individual events.

Kangogo will run the 1,500m and 5,000m events while Cheseto runs the 5,000m and 10,000m and Chelimo runs the 3,000m Steeplechase. Rounding out the men side is junior Demetrius Preston, who will compete in thelong jump.

Joining the trio are the likes of senior Laura Carr who will chase down glory in the 10,000m on the women’s side. Other female athletes competing include senior Elisha Harris (javelin), junior Hallidie Wilt (3,000m

Steeplechase), sophomore Ruth Keino (5,000m and 10,000m) and sophomore Miriam Kipng’Eno (1,500m and 5,000m).

“They’re just going to go there and they’re really confident in what they need to do,” Garlatz said. “They’ll execute whatever specific gameplan that applies to (their) specific event on raceday.