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CROSS COUNTRY RUNNING

Tales From The Trails: UAF’s hometown heroes Kendall Kramer and Naomi Bailey dominate GNAC cross country hand-in-hand

by | Nov 5, 2022 | Cover Story, Cross Country Running, UAA, UAF

Gotta hand it to UAF runners Kendall Kramer and Naomi Bailey – the distance duo from Fairbanks crushed the Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross-country championships Saturday, and did it hand-in-hand.

Kramer and Bailey, who finished holding hands in Monmouth, Ore., after running away from the field over six kilometers (3.73 miles), officially went 1-2 to spearhead three Alaskans in the top 10 and five in the top 23.

As Kramer and Bailey approached the finish line, Kramer extended her left hand to Bailey’s right hand and the teammates grasped hands across the timing mats to finish 32 seconds – a remarkable cushion over the distance — ahead of third-place finisher Caitlin Heldt of Western Oregon.

Kramer was given a time of 20:37.0 to Bailey’s 20:37.1, with Heldt crossing in 21:09.1.

Meanwhile, Western Washington’s Sophie Wright of Palmer earned all-conference honors with her eighth-place finish in 21:39.6. Wright was the Vikings’ second finisher and helped spark them to the team title with 64 points. Wright in cross country stretches her boundaries, given she’s best known on the track for racing the 800 meters and 1,500 meters.

UAF’s women finished fifth (91 points) among 10 teams and UAA finished seventh (163 points).

Western Washington (31 points) also won the men’s title, with UAA, led by champion Cole Nash (23:46.2 for 8K/4.97 miles), taking third place (83 points) and UAF 10th (285 points).

As impressive as Wright’s placing was, check out the eye-opening work from former UAA and current Seattle Pacific athlete Vanessa Aniteye of Eagle River. Aniteye is an eight-time NCAA Division II track All-American and last spring finished sixth in the 400 meters at the national championships in 53.64 seconds, the second-fastest 400 in history by an Alaska woman.

Saturday, in her debut season of cross country, she finished 22nd (22:30.3) at a distance 15 times longer than her track specialty.

All-GNAC Women’s Cross Country Team. Photo by Arielle Himelbloom/Alaska Sports Report

UAF’s Delainey Zock of Anchorage was the Nanooks’ fourth runner, finishing a hair behind Aniteye in the same time.

Jordan Strausbaugh of Soldotna was the third finisher for UAA’s women in 22:49.3. Sofija Spaic of Palmer was sixth among Seawolves and 44th overall (23:33.2) and Arielle Himelbloom of Kodiak was 71st in 25:16.3.

UAA’s Nash, an All-American at 5,000 meters on the track last spring, won the men’s race by 17 seconds. And he appeared to be on cruise control as he crossed the line, hardly looking winded.

UAF’s men featured five Alaska runners among its six competitors: Ryan Owens of Palmer (59th in 27:42.3); Nolan Earnest of Fairbanks (61st, 27:44.0); Josh Baurick of Fairbanks (72nd, 29:36.0); Jack Cater of Fairbanks (73rd, 29:36.6); and Ben Pilon of Fairbanks (76th, 30:41.8).

Story made possible by:

Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

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