UAF cross country running teams start off season with high hopes and lofty goals

Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star Reporter
September. 4, 2012

The Alaska Nanooks women’s cross country running team closed their 2011 season by qualifying for the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships for the first time in UAF history. After a momentous achievement such as that, the Nanook running team has been eager to start another season. That season started with a 3 school meet this weekend on Thursday, Aug. 30 and Saturday, Sept. 1. In the meets, UAF ran against Seattle Pacific University from Washington and Black Hills State University from South Dekota.

The three teams ran an 8 kilometer course on the UAF West Ridge trails Thursday evening and a 4 kilometer race Saturday morning. In the men‘s races, Black Hills State finished with 36 team points, narrowly beating Seattle Pacific who had 41 points. The Nanook men’s team finished with 52 points.

UAF senior, Heidi O’Connor-Brooks, runs toward the end of the the course during the women’s race against Seattle Pacific and Black Hills State on the morning of Saturday, Sep 1. Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star

The Nanooks were led home by rookie Michael Fehrenbach, a freshman from Germany. He finished the race in 3rd place overall with a time of 12 minutes and 56 seconds.

“I feel like I ran a good race,” Fehrenbach said, “This is a tough course and Alaska is a very different climate from Germany. I lost a little time on the down hills so it was hard to make it up on the flat parts, but today was good.”

Tyler Kornfield, a senior, finished 2nd for UAF, in 5th place overall with a time of 13:03. Dunlap expressed his happiness with how the men ran given the rigorous preseason training they have endured.

“Our men’s team has set some lofty goals for the season and I think with the group that we have our men’s team can make some big improvements over last year,” said Dunlap before the races.

The Nanook women’s team finished 3rd among the three teams, with 61 points. Black Hills State took 2nd place with 46 points and Seattle Pacific won the race title with 21 team points. The Nanooks’ 1st runner to finish was Senior Marit Rjabov, who finished the race in 3rd place overall with a time of 16 minutes and 26.9 seconds, cutting more than 40 seconds off of her previous course time.

The race was won by Black Hill State’s Erin Curran, who finished with a time of 15 minutes and 11.7 seconds. UAF’s Heidi O’Connor-Brook finished closely behind her team mate in 9th place with a time of 16 minutes and 41.7 seconds. Two places after was Freshman Sarah Falconer, finishing with a time of 16 minutes and 56.8 seconds.

Although the women’s team did not fare as well as they had hoped, assistant coach Dunlap was able to see the positive.

“All three runners who raced last year [Marit Rjabov, Megan Thompson and O’Conner-Brook] took off considerable time, almost 40 seconds each, from their 2011 performances, so that’s pretty impressive and cool to see,” he said.

The UAF cross country running team will continue their season until mid November. Their next race will be the annual Ester Dome 5 kilometer race held Saturday, Sept. 8 at 11 a.m.

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