As of Wednesday, October 25, 2017
BELLINGHAM, Wash. — In the world of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross-country, Alaska Anchorage has reigned supreme.
The school had won the previous seven team titles on the men's side.
On Saturday, that streak came to an end.
Led by an individual title by David Ribich, the men's team took home the team championship for the first time in school history.
The Wolves scored 51 points. Alaska Anchorage placed second with 64. Simon Fraser and Western Washington followed closely with 70 and 73 points, respectively.
“It’s incredible,” Ribich said. “Everyone is feeling ecstatic and relieved that all the anticipation, all the build up to this point paid off.”
Ribich navigated the 8,000-meter course in 24 minutes, 54.82 seconds after pulling away from the lead pack.
“About 3.5 kilometers in, I was running with the lead group,” Ribich said. “I heard the announcer say it's a tight battle between Alaska Anchorage and Western Oregon with all their runners within striking distance of each other. That gave me a burst of energy and I made the decisive mood.”
Ribich also had a little extra motivation.
Ribich saw an interview prior to the race with a runner from a different school. That runner talked about Ribich’s kick at the end of a race.
The senior wanted to show there was more to him than a fast finish — and accomplished his goal.
“It just shows that no matter what you think, races can go unpredictably sometimes,” Ribich said.
Moments after finishing, Ribich was watching the finish line, counting the places as his teammates rolled in. He didn't have to wait long.
Dustin Nading placed eighth in 25:32.76 and the trio of Tyler Jones, Parker Marson and Justin Crosswhite finished 13th-15th to round out the Wolves' scoring runners.
WOU's women's team placed sixth. Kennedy Rufener took seventh overall, finishing the 6,000-meter course in 22:07.73.
Western Oregon will host the NCAA Division II West Region race on Nov. 4. at 10 a.m.
“This is the first trophy our new athletic director has gotten,” Ribich said. “We're confident in each other. The school believes in us. With our ranking, it seems Division II is starting to believe in us. For us seniors, this will be our last race in Oregon and we want to do well.”