This year’s GNAC championship race looks to be a very tight affair between Simon Fraser and Alaska Anchorage. Both have flipped with each other in regional rankings and both look to be ready to throw down this Saturday. Anchorage will look to win their fourth consecutive title. However, that string of victories could be in jeopardy. Simon Fraser has had a phenomenal year thus far and looks to be a legitimate threat to the Seawolves’ title chances in 2018.
The Clan and Seawolves have only met once this season at the Western Washington University Cross Country Classic. In that meeting, we saw Simon Fraser come out on top by a mere five points. Emmah Chelimo won the individual title and cemented herself as the individual favorite this weekend. The next two finishers in the team battle were Addy Townsend (5th) and Sophia Kaiser (7th) of Simon Fraser. Those two proved to be the deciding factors, as the Clan won the individual battles in the second, third, and fourth scoring slots. Zennah Jepchumba was the next closest scorer for Anchorage, finishing 10th.
Despite having a talented low-stick in Chelimo, the Seawolves will need the rest of their scoring pack to step up and close the gap between themselves and Chelimo. Ruth Cvancara, the fifth runner, was 1:41 behind her top teammate.
In comparison, Simon Fraser’s 1-5 spread was 1:04. Granted, Chelimo was 44 seconds ahead of her next closest GNAC competitor and looks to be a quality All-American candidate. However, that does not erase the fact that Anchorage’s strength will come from how they match up at the spots behind Chelimo. This race was only decided by five points. It could very well switch in Alaska’s favor if they run to full potential on race day.
Another team to look out for on Saturday has to be Seattle Pacific. The Falcons have been led all season by freshman Kaylee Mitchell who finished 6th at the WWU classic. Katherine Walter and Dania Holmberg are also quality contributors. However, it doesn’t look like they will have quite enough depth to match up completely with the team battle occurring up front. They finished as the third GNAC team at WWU, but were behind Alaska Anchorage by 20 points. Mitchell is a very solid, young low-stick for the Falcons. They will need the backend to step up if they are to have any shot of winning the team title.
1. Simon Fraser Clan
2. Alaska Anchorage Seawolves
3. Seattle Pacific Falcons
1. Emmah Chelimo (Alaska Anchorage)
2. Addy Townsend (Simon Fraser)
3. Kaylee Mitchell (Seattle Pacific)
4. Sophia Kaiser (Simon Fraser)
5. Zennah Jepchumba (Alaska Anchorage)