Alaska Anchorage, Keino risk win streaks at GNAC Championships
Oct. 18, 2011
YAKIMA, Wash. - Alaska Anchorage, which is the defending men's and women's conference and regional champion, will try to keep its season-long win streak alive Saturday at the 11th annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross country championships.
The championships will be held for the fourth consecutive year at the Apple Ridge Cross Country Facility near Yakima. The women's 6,000 meter race begins at 10 a.m. followed by the men's 8,000 meters at 11 a.m
All pre-meet activities will be held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Yakima.
The Seawolves already have won four meets this fall, earning both the men's and women's titles in the Alaska Anchorage Invitational (Sept. 1), the Hawaii Pacific Invitational (Sept. 3), the Hawaii Big Wave Invitational (Sept. 10) and the Western Classic (Oct. 8) in Bellingham.
UAA's men posted perfect scores of 15 in the two Hawaii meets and the women had a perfect score in the UAA Invitational.
Both UAA teams are regionally and nationally ranked. The men are currently second in the West Region and 11th nationally, while the women are also second in the region and are sixth in the latest national poll.
The Seawolf women's lineup features three returning all-conference selections including Ruth Keino who will attempt to join an elite group of six women who have finished in the Top 10 at the conference meet four different times.
Keino is unbeaten this fall, finishing first in all four of the Seawolves' meets. Last year she finished third in the conference meet in back of winner Sarah Porter of Western Washington and runner-up Miriam Kipng'eno of UAA.
Kipng'eno will be seeking her third all-conference finish, as will UAA's Shoshana Keegan, Lauren Breihof of Western Washington and Natty Plunkett of Seattle Pacific. Keegan finished fifth a year ago, while Breihof and Plunkett placed seventh and ninth, respectively.
Also back from last year's Top 10 are Raphaela Sieber of Alaska Fairbanks, who finished eighth, and Joscelyn Minton of Saint Martin's, who placed 10th.
In addition to Keino, Plunkett and Minton and Western Washington freshman Katelyn Steen have won races this fall. Plunkett, an all-conference Top 10 finisher in 2008 and 2010, swept titles in the UAF Long and Short-Course races in Fairbanks (Sept. 1 and Sept. 3). Minton claimed the title in the Puget Sound Invitational (Sept. 3) and Steen won the CWU Apple Ridge run (Sept. 10) leading the Vikings to the team title.
Western Washington, which is ranked third in the region and 16th nationally, likely has the best chance to challenge UAA's two-year conference reign. Two other GNAC women's teams are also regionally ranked - Alaska Fairbanks at No. 6 and five-time GNAC champion Seattle Pacific (2003, 05-08). The Nanooks have three wins this season - two in Fairbanks and one at the Hawaii Hilo Invitational (Oct. 8).
Micah Chelimo, last year's conference second-place finisher, Jake Parisien, Alfred Kangogo and Yonatan Yilma will lead the Anchorage men, who will be seeking their fifth conference title in 11 seasons. In addition to last year, the Seawolves also won titles in 2002, 2005 and 2008.
Chelimo, Parisien and Kangogo are all two-time all-conference performers - Chelimo in 2009 and 2010, Parisien in 2008 and 2010 and Kangogo, who redshirted last year, in 2008 and 2009. Yilma finished 14th last season, but has two wins (Hawaii Pacific, Hawaii Big Wave) this fall. Chelimo also has two wins at the UAA Invitational and Western Classic.
Western Washington doesn't have any individual or team victories this fall, but had a solid third-place team finish in the WWU Classic and is ranked third in the region and 19th nationally. Tyler Cannon led WWU at their home meet placing sixth on the 10K layout.
Western Oregon (4th in the region, 22nd nationally) is also ranked in both polls, while Northwest Nazarene and Seattle Pacific are ranked seventh and 10th in the regional poll.
WOU has been led this fall by Connor Kasler who finished first in the Clackamas Invitational (Sept. 2) leading the Wolves to the team title.
Barak Watson, who earned all-conference honors in 2009 and 2010 when he finished 10th and fourth, respectively, has had a fantastic fall for Northwest Nazarene, winning the Willamette Invitational (Oct. 1), placing second in the Erik Anderson Invitational Sept. 24 in Spokane on the regional and national course and third at the NNU Roger Curran Memorial (Sept. 10).
Seattle Pacific has won three team titles including two at Fairbanks. The third came in the CWU Appleridge Run where the Falcons' Jordan Wolfe finished first.
Spencer Hunt of Saint Martin's and Brian Potter of Montana State Billings have also won races. Hunt, who along with teammate Kyle Van Santen had all-conference performances last year placing ninth and 10th in the GNAC championships, won the UPS Invitational.
Van Santen, who also was also an all-conference selection in 2009, placed second at UPS, third in the UW Sundodger Open Division (Sept. 17) and fifth in the pre-national meet in Spokane and in the Western Classic in Bellingham.
Potter swept both the long-course and short-course races to begin the season in Fairbanks.
Following the conference championships, which will include second-year member Simon Fraser, most of the GNAC squads will compete Nov. 5 in the NCAA Division II West Regionals in Spokane at Plantes Ferry.
The national meet, which will be co-hosted by the GNAC and the Spokane Regional Sports Commission, will also be held in Spokane Nov. 19.
Simon Fraser is making its GNAC conference cross country debut after placing fifth in the 2010 NAIA national meet. The Clan women won the Concordia Adidas Cross Country Classic at Fernhill Park in Portland.
Clarion Selected As Official Hotel For GNAC Cross Country
The Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Yakima, Wash., will serve as the exclusive lodging partner for the 11th annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships, GNAC Commissioner Richard Hannan has announced.
The championships will be held Saturday at the Apple Ridge Run Cross Country facility for the fourth consecutive year. This is also the fourth year the Clarion as served as the official hotel for the meet.
"We are very pleased to once again partner with the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center," GNAC Commissioner Richard Hannan said. "The Clarion is a first-class facility and they've become an integral part in making our championships a first-class event."
The weekend's activities will kick off Friday night with the pre-meet banquet at the Clarion beginning at 6:30 p.m. Members of the general public can purchase tickets for the banquet at the door, however the number of tickets sold will be limited.
On Saturday, the women's 6,000 meter race will begin at 10 a.m. at Apple Ridge followed by the men's 8,000 meter race at 11 a.m. The post-meet awards ceremony will be held at the Clarion at approximately 12:30 p.m.
All 10 GNAC schools, which are located in five different states (Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska) and one Canadian province (British Columbia) will compete in the meet. Central Washington University is the host for the meet.
Among the competing schools is the University of Alaska Anchorage, which is the defending conference champions in both the men's and women's divisions. UAA's women are currently ranked sixth nationally and its men are ranked 11th among NCAA Division II schools.
Three other GNAC teams are also nationally ranked. Western Washington University's women are ranked 16th and its men are ranked 19th. Western Oregon University's men are ranked 22nd.
The Clarion is conveniently located off I-82 at 1507 N. First Street. It has 208 spacious guest rooms and suites. For more information about the facility or to make reservations call 509-248-7570 or visit their web site at: www.yakimaclarion.com.
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