The University of Alaska Anchorage men’s and women’s cross-country teams continued their undefeated season last weekend in Spokane Wash., winning, and defending, the NCAA Division II West Region Championships.
Juneau-Douglas alumna (2008) Katie Krehlik is one of the Seawolves women’s top ten runners but was an alternate at the championships as the team is allowed just seven entrants.
“College running is amazing,” Krehlik said. “It has transformed me into a real runner. Although I used to run in Juneau, I really run now. Training is fairly heavy and it is a big commitment. When the coaches tell us our workout for the day is only 60 minutes now and 30 minutes later I get so excited, its like Christmas coming early.”
Krehlik was named Thursday to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross-country all-academic team. Eight Seawolves were selected and Krehlik, an early childhood education major, had the highest GPA for the women with 3.60.
The Seawolves women won their third consecutive West Region title Saturday, while the men won their second straight. Both teams put six of their seven runners in the top 25 finishers for all-region honors.
The women qualify for their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Division II Championships on Nov. 19, also held in Spokane. The men qualify for their third.
Krehlik, a junior, is completing her second year of varsity experience after redshirting in 2009. She will travel as an alternate with the team to the championships.
“The team is my replacement family away from home,” Krehlik said. “They are always there for me and I do my best to be there for them too. It makes my heart flutter to know that I am part of such a strong team, both on the course and in everyday life. We become strong by doing what our coaches tell us. That’s pretty simple. By dong what they tell us we win championships and have wonderful amounts of fun as a team. But it is not all pumpkin pie and glitter.”
This season Krehlik finished eighth at the UAA Invite (19:23.9) in a field of 21 teams (each team has up to 10 individual runners); 15th at the Hawaii Pacific Invite (19:50) among 31 teams; 11th at the UH Big Wave Invite (19:48.93) among 51 teams; 29th at the Western Washington Classic Invite (23:08) among 131 teams; and 28th in the GNAC Championships (23:54) among 92 teams.
In 2010 Krehlik finished 6th at the Hawaii Pacific Invite, 7th at the BYU-Hawaii Invite; 61st at the Willamette Invite; 26th at the Western Washington Invite; 18th at the GNAC Championships.
“The reason we can run away from the competition isbecause we run everday, hard,” Krehlik said. “We do second runs. We give up sugary treas-ts. We wait to go sledding until after we have finished with all of our races. And we even lift weights. Blah.”
At Saturday’s West Regional the No. 7-ranked UAA women upset the Chico State Wildcats who entered the meet with the highest ranking at No. 5. UAA posted 27 points to Chico’s 66, the best score since UC Davis posted 29 in 1998. Also qualifying as a team were Great Northwest Athletic Conference members Western Washington with 148 points in third and Alaska Fairbanks with 164 points in fourth.
The No. 11 UAA men narrowly defeated the No. 5 Wildcats with a 37-39 score, placing its five scorers in the top 15. The GNAC’s Western Oregon was third with 126 points, and WWU was fourth with 128 points.
UAA senior Ruth Keino, a native of Kapcheno, Kenya, won her first West Region title with a time of 20 minutes, 51 seconds over the 6K race. Junior Miriam Kipng’eno, a native of Eldoret, Kenya, finished third with 21:25; sophomore Ivy O’Guinn finished fourth at 21:28 and senior Shoshana Keegan, who ran high school for West Anchorage, made the top 10 with a seventh place time of 21:45. UAA sophomore Susan Bick (Bartlett, Anchorage) was 13th with 22:01, and rookies Susan Tanui (Eldoret, Kenya) 15th in 22:09 and freshman Bryn Haebe (Evergreen, Colo.) 28th in 22:26.
Junior Micah Chelimo, from Kapkoi, Kenya, won for the fourth time this season for the men. Chelimo posted a top time of 30:19 in the 10K race. Other Seawolves included: Junior Alfred Kangogo (Eldoret, Kenya) in fourth with a time of 30:52 and senior Yonatan Yilma (Edmonds, Wash.) eighth at 31:12; rookie Isaac Kangogo was 11th in 31:22 and Kodiak freshman Dylan Anthony 13th with 31:26; Jake Parisien (Palmer) was 20th in 31:46 and Michael Adams (Service, Anchorage,) 36th in 32:33.
The Seawolves return to Spokane on Nov. 19 for the NCAA Division II National Championships. This is the fourth straight team appearance at the NCAA’s for both squads; the men’s eighth appearance overall and the women’s sixth.
“I am so grateful to have the coaches I have,” Krehlik said. “Sometimes they can be a bit intimidating and raise their voices but I know its only because they want us to reach our full potential and it is for encouragement. Sometimes I think what it would have been like if I went somewhere else and didn’t run, then I remember I am in a happy place doing what I love so there is no reason to think that. I have made wonderful friends from all over the world. I have gone to race in places I never thought I would. I think that however hard it gets I know that I’m glad I am part of a college athletics team.”
The Seawolves’ women are ranked No. 4 in the current U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association national poll and the Seawolves’ men are No. 5. The women trail Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference’s Western State (No. 1) and Adams State (No. 3) and Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s Grand Valley State (No. 2). The top three men’s teams are Adams State (1), Western State (2) and Grand Valley State (3). At No. 4 is Colorado Mines (RMAC).
In addition, Keino was selected the USTFCCA West Region women’s athlete of the year, Chelimo was male athlete of the year, and UAA head coach Michael Friess was selected both the men’s and women’s Coach of the Year. Friess also won in 2009 and 2010. Seawolves’ all-academic selections included Krehlik, Keino, Keegan, Kipng’eno, Bick, Chelimo, Kangogo, and Thomas Hill.