(GNAC media release)
BILLINGS – Simon Fraser and Alaska Anchorage made the most of less-than-ideal running conditions Saturday, securing trips to December’s Division II Championships with second and third-place team finishes to lead the GNAC at the NCAA Men’s West Regional Cross Country Championships at Amend Park.
Simon Fraser saw all five scoring runners earn All-West Region honors with top-25 finishes as the Clan placed second with a score of 63 points. Alaska Anchorage, which won the GNAC championship two weeks ago, also placed four runners in the top-25 to finish third with a score of 116 points.
Unlike the mild conditions much of the Northwest has experienced and the hot weather that California has endured, the men’s runners dealt with snow and a start-time temperature of 18 degrees to cover the mostly-grass 10,000-meter regionals course. Chico State, which has had to deal with the realities of the Camp Fire over the last week, won the team title with 63 points.
Alaska Anchorage had the top GNAC individual finishes in the meet, though in the flip order from the conference meet. Sophomore Felix Kemboi was the regional runner-up, placing in second in 30:50.84. Kemboi was just edged out by Chico State’s Eddie King, who took the individual crown with a time of 30:49. Seawolves’ sophomore Wesley Kirui, who was the GNAC individual champion, finished fifth in a time of 31:04.74.
Simon Fraser benefited from excellent grouping to earn second place. Junior Pierre-Louis Detourbe led the Clan with a sixth-place finish in 31:06.36 while senior Sean Miller was right behind in 31:06.93. Senior Rowan Doherty placed 12th in 31:23.88, junior Carlos Vargas placed 17th in 31:35.05 and junior Aaron Ahl finished 21st in 31:40.81.
Also earning All-West Region honors for Alaska Anchorage was senior Jorge Sanchez, who placed 19th in 31:36.81, and sophomore Nickson Koech with a 23rd place time of 31:43.37.
Western Oregon senior Tyler Jones earned an automatic invitation to nationals, placing ninth in a time of 31:12.85. He was the second individual finisher not connected to the three automatic qualifying teams. Jones’ teammate, senior Dustin Nading, placed 10th in a time of 31:14.94 and is likely to earn an at-large invitation when the complete national meet field is announced on Monday. The Wolves placed sixth with a score of 182 points.
Western Washington had its best finish in the regionals since 2015, placing fifth with a score of 159 points. Junior Jadon Olson earned All-West Region honors with a 20th place finish in 31:40.63. Eric Hamel also received regional accolades with a 22nd place finish time of 31:42.83.
NCAA DIVISION II MEN’S WEST REGION CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
At Amend Park, Billings, Mont.
Team Scores: Chico State 39 (automatic team qualifier), Simon Fraser 63 (automatic team qualifier), Alaska Anchorage 116 (automatic team qualifier), Cal Poly Pomona 146, Western Washington 159, Western Oregon 182, Cal State San Marcos 209, Stanislaus State 213, UC San Diego 299, Central Washington 351, Academy of Art 356, Azusa Pacific 375, Notre Dame de Namur 386, Seattle Pacific 395, San Francisco St. 399, Montana State Billings 432, Cal State East Bay 444, Humboldt State 478, Hawaii Pacific 496, Concordia (Ore.) 536, Concordia (Calif.) 568, Fresno Pacific 576, Saint Martin’s 576, Cal State LA 748. Incomplete: Alaska, Cal State Monterey Bay, Dominican (Calif.), Northwest Nazarene.
Top 10 Finishers (All-West Region): 1, Eddie King, CSUC, 30:49.00. 2, Felix Kemboi, UAA, 30:50.84. 3, Jack Johnson, CSUC, 30:55.95. 4, John Larson, SFSU, 31:00.19 (automatic individual qualifier). 5, Wesley Kirui, UAA, 31:04.74. 6, Pierre-Louis Detourbe, SFU, 31:06.36. 7, Sean Miller, SFU, 31:06.93. 8, Wyatt Baxter, CSUC, 31:10.15. 9, Tyler Jones, WOU, 31:12.85 (automatic individual qualifier). 10, Dustin Nading, WOU, 31:14.94.
Top 25 GNAC Finishers (All-West Region): 12, Rowan Doherty, SFU, 31:23.88. 17, Carlos Vargas, SFU, 31:35.05. 19, Jorge Sanchez, UAA, 31:36.81. 20, Jadon Olson, WWU, 31:40.63. 21, Aaron Ahl, SFU, 31:40.81. 22, Eric Hamel, WWU, 31:42.83. 23, Nickson Koech, UAA, 31:43.37.
Meantime, Alaska Anchorage left no doubt as to who the top women’s team in the West Region is.
With a bevy of experience at the regional level and a dominant individual victory by junior Emmah Chelimo, Alaska Anchorage cruised to the women’s team title. The Seawolves won with 66 points to earn the program’s 11th consecutive trip to the Division II National Championships.
Chelimo became the fourth Seawolves’ women’s athlete to win the individual title during the GNAC era and the third in the last four years. She covered the snowy 6,000-meter course in a time of 20:57.47. Her teammate, sophomore Nancy Jeptoo, placed second in 21:08.65. The win gives Chelimo the second leg of a cross country triple crown after winning the GNAC Championships two weeks ago.
The Seawolves led a very strong day for the GNAC, which placed five teams in the top-10. Simon Fraser joined Alaska Anchorage as an automatic team qualifier for nationals, placing second with 85 points to outdistance third-place Chico State by three points. Seattle Pacific finished fourth with 182 points. Western Washington was fifth with 187 points while Central Washington placed 10th with 256 points.
The Seawolves placed four of their five scoring runners in the top-15 with all earning All-West Region honors. Senior Zennah Jepchumba placed sixth in 21:23.02 while senior Danielle McCormick finished 11th in a time of 21:35.66.
The Clan saw three of its runners earn All-West Region honors. Sophomore Olivia Willett placed fourth with a time of 21:18.31. Freshman Sophia Kaiser placed seventh in 21:26.04 and senior Addy Townsend placed 13th in a time of 21:41.21.
Central Washington sophomore Nicole Soleim earned one of the region’s two automatic individual qualifying berths for nationals, placing fifth in a time of 21:19.03. Senior Alexa Shindruk placed with a time of 21:27.52 and will wait until Monday to see if she earns an at-large selection to the national meet.
Seattle Pacific saw three athletes earn All-West Region awards. Junior Kate Lilly placed 10th in a time of 21:34.11 as the GNAC placed eight runners in the top-10. Freshman Kaylee Mitchell placed 16th in a time of 21:43.05 and junior Katherine Walter was 19th in a time of 21:43.93.
Western Washington sophomore Jane Barr also earned all-region honors, placing 24th in a time of 21:50.86.
NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN’S WEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Amend Park, Billings, Mont.
Team Scores: Alaska Anchorage 66 (automatic team qualifier), Simon Fraser 85 (automatic team qualifier), Chico State 88 (automatic team qualifier), Seattle Pacific 182, Western Washington 187, Point Loma 188, Azusa Pacific 189, Stanislaus State 205, Cal State San Marcos 210, Central Washington 256, Academy of Art 280, Cal State San Bernardino 340, Cal Poly Pomona 345, UC San Diego 360, Cal State East Bay 365, Humboldt State 402, Northwest Nazarene 451, Western Oregon 497, San Francisco St. 558, Fresno Pacific 573, Concordia (Calif.) 574, Concordia (Ore.) 628, Montana State Billings 625, Sonoma State 677, Cal State LA 692, Saint Martin’s 828. Incomplete: Alaska, Cal State Monterey Bay, Notre Dame de Namur.
Top 10 Finishers (All-West Region): 1, Emmah Chelimo, UAA, 20:57.47. 2, Nancy Jeptoo, UAA, 21:08.65. 3, Eileen Stressling, APU, 21:13.98 (automatic individual qualifier). 4, Olivia Willett, SFU, 21:18.31. 5, Nicole Soleim, CWU, 21:19.03 (automatic individual qualifier). 6, Zennah Jepchumba, UAA, 21:23.02. 7, Sophia Kaiser, SFU, 21:26.04. 8, Alexa Shindruk, CWU, 21:27.52. 9, Hannah Benoit-Bucher, PLNU, 21:30.04. 10, Kate Lilly, SPU, 21:34.11.
Top-25 GNAC Finishers (All-West Region): 11, Danielle McCormick, UAA, 21:35.66. 13, Addy Townsend, SFU, 21:41.21. 16, Kaylee Mitchell, SPU, 21:43.05. 19, Katherine Walter, SPU, 21:43.05. 24, Jane Barr, WWU, 21:50.86.