Vikings Set to Host GNAC Championships on Saturday

Oct. 19, 2017

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Western Washington University cross country teams are preparing to race at East Lake Padden Park for the second time during October as the Vikings host the GNAC Championships on Saturday morning.

All 11 conference schools will be competing on Saturday with the women’s 6,000-meter race scheduled for 10 am and the men’s 8,000-meter race to follow at 11 am. The awards ceremony is set to take place at noon. Results will be posted at GNAC.Live following the races and the conference will stream the finish line of each race via Facebook Live.

The Alaska Anchorage men enter the meet as the seven-time defending champions, and also return the 2016 individual champion in Edwin Kangogo. Simon Fraser has been the runner-up each of the last two seasons while the WWU men have placed 3rd during each of the last two seasons.

The Vikings were picked 2nd by the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll and will look to capture the title for the first time since 2009. Prior to placing 3rd during each of the last two seasons, the Vikings finished as the runner-up from 2010 through 2014. WWU has finished no lower than 4th at the conference meet each year since 2001 with four GNAC titles.

The Alaska Anchorage women will be looking to win a third consecutive conference title and return 2016 individual champion Caroline Kurgat. Simon Fraser, the runner-up at the conference meet in a tight finish last season, went on to better the Seawolves at the NCAA West Regional and NCAA Championships races last year.

The WWU women placed 4th at the GNAC Championships last season after a 2nd-place finish at the 2015 championships. The Vikings were predicted to place 4th by the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll in 2017 and have placed 4th or better each year since 2008.

On the men’s side, Western Oregon enters the weekend as the top-ranked GNAC team in the most recent U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll. The Wolves are ranked No. 13 (No. 4 in West Region) followed by Alaska Anchorage at No. 17 (No. 5 West Region) and the Vikings, who made their season debut in the national rankings, at No. 23 (No. 7 West Region.).

Among nationally-ranked GNAC women’s teams, Simon Fraser is No. 5 (No. 2 in West Region) followed by Alaska Anchorage at No. 8 (No. 4 West Region). The Vikings are No. 8 in the West Region rankings as the 3rd GNAC team ranked in the region.

Saturday’s meet at East Lake Padden Park will mark the completion of a three-year run of the GNAC Cross Country Championships hosted in Bellingham. WWU will compete at East Lake Padden Park for a second consecutive meet after hosting the 44th Annual WWU Classic on Oct. 7. The men placing 2nd and the women finishing 4th at the WWU Classic.

Senior Andrew Wise (Denver, CO/East) placed 6th overall to lead Vikings at the WWU Classic and was named the GNAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week following the performance. Junior Jadon Olson (Mill Creek, WA/Jackson) was 15th, followed by redshirt sophomore Liam Cossette (Spokane, WA/Ferris) in 20th, redshirt freshman Eric Hamel (Enumclaw, WA) in 30th and junior Dylan Hayes (Seattle, WA/Garfield) in 32nd to complete the scoring for the Vikings.

Senior Lillianna Stelling (Langley, WA/South Whidbey) led the Vikings in 19th place at the WWU Classic, followed by senior Alexandra Laiblin (Oak Harbor, WA) in 22nd. Redshirt sophomore Tracy Melville (Lamont, WA/Lind-Ritzville/Sprague) was 32nd and followed by freshman Jane Barr (Seattle, WA/Roosevelt) in 36th and sophomore Sophia Galvez (Los Alamos, NM) in 40th to round out the scoring.  

Parking at East Lake Padden Park will be limited and is anticipated to fill quickly on Saturday morning. Carpooling is encouraged, if possible. Additional parking is available at West Lake Padden Park and a shuttle will run from West Lake Padden Park to the start/finish at East Lake Padden Park during race day.

Owned and operated by the City of Bellingham, Lake Padden Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts year round. In addition to the lake and trails, Lake Padden Park also features a public golf course. The venue is the longtime home of the WWU Classic and has also served as the site of the NCAA West Regional Championships in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2010.

Following the GNAC Championships, WWU will travel to Oregon for the NCAA II West Regional on Nov. 4 at Ash Creek Preserve in Monmouth, Ore.


GNAC Championships Meet Links:

2017 WWU Cross Country Schedule





Sept. 9 (Sat.)

Central Washington Invitational

Host: Central Washington University

Yakima, WA (Apple Ridge Run)


Sept. 9 (Sat.)

Saint Martin’s University Cross Country Meet

Host: Saint Martin’s University

Lacey, WA (SMU Campus)

10 am

Sept. 16 (Sat.)

Sundodger Invitational

Host: University of Washington

Seattle, WA (Lincoln Park)

9 am

Sept. 23 (Sat.)

Roy Griak Invitational

Host: University of Minnesota

Falcon Heights, MN (Les Bolstad Golf Course)

9:50 am CT

Sept. 23 (Sat.)

Saint Martin’s University Invitational

Host: Saint Martin’s University

Lacey, WA (SMU Campus)

9:30 am

Oct.  7 (Sat.)

44th Annual WWU Classic

Host: Western Washington University

BELLINGHAM (E. Lake Padden Park)

10 am

Oct.  21 (Sat.)

GNAC Championships

Host. Western Washington University

BELLINGHAM (E. Lake Padden Park)

10 am

Nov.  4 (Sat.)

NCAA Division II West Regional

Host: Western Oregon University

Monmouth, OR (Ash Creek Preserve)

10 am

Nov.  18 (Sat.)

NCAA Division II National Championships

Host: Evansville Sports Corporation

Evansville, IN (Angel Mounds)





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