Four UAA runners garnered All-America honors and both teams finished in the top 10 Saturday at the NCAA Division II cross-country championships on a muddy, rainy day in Pittsburgh.
Wesley Kirui paced UAA with a ninth-place finish in the men’s 10-kilometer race. In the women’s 6K, Zennah Jepchumba, Emmah Chelimo and Nancy Jeptoo all placed in the top 40 to earn All-America recognition.
Also turning in an All-America performance was Kenai’s Jonah Theisen, a senior at Black Hills State who claimed 14th place in the men’s race.
Jepchumba and Chelimo finished 22nd and 23rd, respectively, to lead the UAA women to sixth place, extending the team’s streak of top-8 finishes to 10. Chelimo had been UAA’s top runner all season and entered the meet as the reigning West Region champion.
The men placed eighth.
“I was really pleased with the way our men’s and women’s teams ran today,” coach Michael Friess said in a release from the school. “If at the beginning of the year you would have told me that our women would finish sixth and our men eighth, and we would have four All-Americans, I would have been ecstatic.
“We have a lot of people returning on both teams so we are excited for the future of UAA cross country.”
Kirui and teammate Felix Kemboi, both sophomores from Kenya, ran in the top-15 through the first 5 kilometers of the men’s race. Kirui placed ninth in 32:35 but Kemboi faded over the final 5 kilometers to finish 54th (33:51).
Other finishers for the men were Jorge Sanchez (65th in 34:04), Nickson Koech (78th in 34:16), Faisal Ibrahim (130th in 34:57), Drew Johnson (160th in 35:22) and Kaleb Korta (172nd in 35:33).
In the women’s race, Chelimo and Jeptoo ran near the front while Jepchumba worked her way through the crowd to move from 46th place after the first mile to 22nd at the end. Jepchumba passed Jeptoo in the final 1,000 meters and nipped Chelimo at the finish. She and Chelimo posted identical times of 23:15; Jeptoo finished 38th in 23:27.
Dani McCormick, an All-American in indoor and outdoor track, missed becoming one in cross country by five spots, placing, 45th in 23:39.
Other finishers for women were Ruth Cvancara (175th in 25:26), Riley Burroughs (214th in 26:01) and Kim Coscia (234th in 26:44).
Theisen was one of three Alaskans competing for Black Hills State. Twin brother Jordan Theisen was 137th (35:04.2) and Kodiak’s Keith Osowski was 154th (35:16.8.).
Derek Steele, a South High graduate, placed 66th (34:05.1) for the Colorado School of Mines.