Alaska runners ready for first road test at SMU Invite

Jamie Foland

The Alaska Nanooks men’s and women’s cross country teams are in Lacey, Wash. this weekend, where they will compete in the Saint Martin’s University Cross Country Invite on Saturday, Sept. 22.

The women will open the day’s event, running a six-kilometer course around the SMU Campus starting at 9:30 a.m. AKT. The men will follow on an 8k run at 10:15 a.m.

The Nanooks are one of four Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams competing in the event that will feature nationally ranked squads from Western Washington and Seattle Pacific. WWU’s men are 10th, while the Viking women are 15th. SPU’s women’s squad ranks 18th and the Falcon men are 29th.

Within the West Region WWU’s men are third and SPU is seventh. On the women’s side, Alaska is 9th, while SPU is 4th and WWU is 5th.

“I’m pretty excited to go out and see what the men and the women can do this weekend,” Dunlap said. “I say it every year, but the workouts our team has been doing so far this year surpasses what we did last season.”

The terrain of Saturday’s course will include grass, gravel and dirt paths.

“This is definitely flatter than our course – ours is pretty hilly,” said interim head coach Matt Dunlap.  “After we view the course on Friday morning, we’ll have a better idea based on looking at past course times. My guess is it will be a flatter course that will produce some PRs (personal records) for our runners.”

In addition to getting another test against conference foes, the teams’ first trip outside the state of Alaska is important for other reasons according to Dunlap.

“I’m excited to get some of our rookies out of the state and get some experience traveling and racing in a new setting.”

Alaska’s rookies on the trip include Isaac Lammers, Nick Farrell and John Klein.

“All of them haven’t traveled for us yet,” Dunlap said. “This trip can be useful for them for the rest of this year and over the next four years. If they pay attention to what their teammates do they will learn how to take care of themselves during travel and recover faster for their events.”