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UAA women's track and field team win second straight conference title

Mike Nesper
Great Northwest Athletic Conference

The UAA women's running program claimed an impressive sixth straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference title Saturday in Oregon.

The Seawolves' successful defense of their outdoor track and field GNAC team title marked the second straight year UAA's women have swept the conference championships in three sports -- outdoor and indoor track and field and cross country.

The Seawolves, whose men finished second after losing their top runner Micah Chelimo to an Achilles tendon injury Friday, won a combined 12 titles and had 17 top-three performances Saturday. Head coach Michael Friess credited UAA's success to its ability to score points in multiple events.

"That's what creates a championship," he said via cellphone.

UAA's women scored 137 points to edge Northwest Nazarene and Western Washington, which tied for second place with 133 points. Three teams separated by just four points is a rarity, said Friess, now in his 24th season at UAA.

"It was a hard-fought one," he said. "It made for a very exciting meet."

Friess said he was impressed with the Seawolves' desire for yet another conference title.

"I'm just happy with the way our athletes continued to compete and went for every point that they could," he said.

Especially after losing Chelimo.

Friess said UAA could have folded after seeing one of its leaders suffer a season-ending injury during the 3,000-meter steeplechase, but it didn't.

"These guys decided to fight," he said. "Micah has led them through so many different things, it was really nice to see them step up. That was a good tribute to Micah."

Freshman Jamie Ashcroft led UAA with two individual titles and ran a leg of a winning relay. The Shawnigan Lake, B.C., native took first in the 100-meter dash (11.99 seconds) and 200 (24.62) and helped UAA set a meet record of 46.68 in the 4x100 relay along with Makenzie Harsch, Rosie Smith and Sasha Halfyard.

"She did an absolutely amazing job," Friess said of Ashcroft.

Joyce Kipchumba won Friday's 10,000 meters, and took third in Saturday's 5,000, and Karolin Anders won the heptathlon at the GNAC multi-event championships April 29.

Anders also reached the podium Saturday with a second-place finish in the high jump. Smith (100 hurdles) and Alexia Blalock (triple jump) also had second-place performances.

Decathlon winner Cody Thomas was named Most Outstanding Male Performer and was one of seven UAA men to win a GNAC title.

Anchorage's Elliott Bauer (400 hurdles) and Franz Burghagen (javelin) defended their conference crowns. Bauer finished in 53.2 seconds, eking out a victory by one-hundredth of a second over teammate Bobo Camara while Burghagen's heave of 218 feet, 7.5 inches was nearly four feet better than the second-place finisher.

Chugiak product Ethan Hewitt won the 400 in 47.94 seconds and was one of three UAA men to earn their first outdoor conference championship. Joining Hewitt were Dylan Anthony, who won the 5,000 meters in 14:34.46, and Scott Commandeur, who took first in the 800 in 1:52.97.

After leading a Seawolves sweep of the top three places in Friday's 10,000 meters, Victor Samoei was second in Saturday's 5,000, as was the men's 4x400 relay. Isaac Kangogo placed third in the 1,500.

UAA's men scored 158 points, finishing 28 points behind Western Washington. Had Chelimo, who was slated to compete in three events, and Cody Parker, last year's national champion in javelin who injured his elbow last month, been healthy, the Seawolves could have won a men's championship too, Friess said.

"You just wish you had your whole team," he said.

As of Saturday, Burghagen (javelin) and Chelimo (5,000, 10,000) were the only Seawolves to automatically qualify for the May 22-24 NCAA Division II national championships in Allendale, Mich.

UAA had athletes provisionally qualify in 19 events. The list of qualifiers for the national meet is expected to be released Monday.

NCAA Division II track and field championships

UAA's automatic qualifiers

Men

Micah Chelimo (5,000, 10,000 ); Franz Burghagen (javelin).

UAA's provisional qualifiers

Women

Jamie Ashcroft (100, 200, 4x100); Ivy O'Guinn (800, 1,500); Susan Bick (800); Jessica Pahkala (800); Joyce Kipchumba (5,000, 10,000); Rosie Smith (100 hurdles, 4x100); Makenzie Harsch (4x100); Sasha Halfyard (4x100); Karolin Anders (high jump, heptathlon, long jump).

Men

Ethan Hewitt (400, 4x400); Micah Chelimo (1,500); Isaac Kangogo (1,500); Dylan Anthony (5,000, 10,000); Victor Samoei (10,000); Elliott Bauer (400 hurdles, 4x400); Bobo Camara (400 hurdles, 4x400); Scott Commandeur (4x400); Cody Parker (javelin); Cody Thomas (decathlon).

 Reach Mike Nesper at mnesper@adn.com or 257-4335.

 


By MIKE NESPER
mnesper@adn.com