UAA's Friess sweeps GNAC cross-country coaching awards for fourth straight season

In the 24 seasons Michael Friess has guided UAA's cross-country running and track and field teams, he has won so many coach of the year awards that keeping track of them, as it were, is something of a chore.

Friess on Wednesday was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's men's and women's cross country Coach of the Year, marking the fourth straight year he has swept those titles. He has won five consecutive women's awards.

That haul gives Friess, 51, a total of 26 coach of the year honors in cross country and track and field. He has earned 16 conference awards for cross country and six region awards in the sport. Additionally, Friess has won four coach of the year titles in track and field.

"I really feel these are a reflection -- and I'm not just saying this -- of much more than just me,'' Friess said. "They're a reflection of our university, our program and our athletes. I consider those program awards and not individual awards.''

Friess last week directed UAA's cross-country women to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division II nationals. He coached the men to a seventh-place finish. Also, five UAA runners earned All-America status to mark the most single-season All-Americas in program history.

The Seawolves cross-country women have finished in the top 10 in the nation five consecutive seasons and the men have finished in the top 10 four straight years.

UAA 6th nationally

UAA's team performances at cross country nationals has vaulted the school into sixth place nationally in the Learfield Sports Director's Cup standings, which track the success of 300 NCAA Division II programs.

The standings track points awarded in up to 14 sports, seven each for men and women.

UAA owns 152 points. Shippensburg (Pa.), which won the women's field hockey national title and scored points at cross country nationals, sits first with 203 points.

UAA currently is the top team among Great Northwest Athletic Conference programs, ahead of Western Washington, which is 12th.


Anchorage Daily News