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CROSS COUNTRY RUNNING

College Cross Country: Santiago Gomez-Prosser helps NAU to runner-up finish, claims All-American honor with UAF’s Kramer & Fordham

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Cover Story, Cross Country Running, Running

Santiago Gomez-Prosser (732) competes at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. Photo by NAU XC/TF

Anchorage’s Santiago Gomez-Prosser provided yet another strong performance at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, helping Northern Arizona University to a runner-up finish and securing his second All-American honor.

The former Dimond High standout nearly mirrored his performance from one year ago, finishing in 21st place after covering the 10-kilometer course in 29:32 — a blistering pace of 4:45 per mile.

Gomez-Prosser, a junior at NAU, was the fourth scorer for his team as they attempted to defend their title as the back-to-back-to-back national champions in Charlottesville, Va. The Lumberjacks came into the meet undefeated, while also previously winning six of the past seven championships.

With teammates Drew Bosley and Nico Young setting the early pace, Gomez-Prosser’s main job was to close the gap alongside NAU’s two other scorers. The Lumberjacks put forth a strong effort, and with all five scorers placing in the top 25, the race was theirs to lose.

But Oklahoma State proved to be a juggernaut, overtaking the perennial powerhouse for good by the fourth kilometer.

While the race unfolded, Gomez-Prosser stayed composed, gradually moving past competitors.

After coming through a lightning-quick first kilometer (2:32), Gomez-Prosser found himself in 37th place. He meticulously moved up six positions by the halfway point, coming through the five-kilometer mark in 14:30 — two ticks ahead of his timing last fall. By the eight-kilometer mark, he had passed five runners, speeding by in 23:29 — five ticks ahead of his personal best at the distance.

Over the last two kilometers, Gomez-Prosser passed three more runners and held off a pair of late-charging competitors to finish 21st out of the 236-person field.

Santiago Gomez-Prosser with some new hardware. Photo by Doug Herron

While the win streak ultimately snapped, the Lumberjacks still added to their impressive resume, recording their eighth consecutive top-2 finish at the national meet and the 11th total time they have finished either first or second. Additionally, all five scorers earned All-American honors for the second consecutive year, while the women matched the runner-up team finish.

“This team has grown to something beyond any outcome,” shared Gomez-Prosser on Instagram. “We fought until the very end and we refused to go down without a fight.”

By putting all five scorers in top-15, Oklahoma State ran away with the team title amassing just 49 points. The Lumberjacks finished runner-up with 70 points — the lowest runner-up score at the national meet since 1963.

Harvard’s Graham Blanks capped an undefeated season and became the first male Ivy League runner to win the championships, finishing in 28:37.

Ava Earl

Girdwood’s Ava Earl also competed at the championships for the second consecutive year.

This time she was the lone representative for the Northwestern Wildcats, having qualified as an individual after an eighth-place showing at the Midwest Region Championships.

Earl, who doubles as a singer-songwriter, ran to the beat of her own drum, improving by a staggering 131 places from last fall to finish 64th out of 247 competitors — the second-highest finish in program history.

The junior covered the six-kilometer course in 20:24 — a sizzling pace of 5:28 per mile — to slash 14 seconds from her personal best.

Earl ran tenaciously, starting in 61st place after a quick first kilometer (3:00) before dialing back to find her rhythm. The ‘Cat remained poised, moving past competitors with each kilometer. By the fifth kilometer, Earl was in 74th place, coming through in 17:06. She would go on to overtake ten more competitors by the time she crossed the finish line.

Florida’s Parker Valby ran away with the win in 18:55, while NC State (123) narrowly edged Northern Arizona (124).

Kodiak’s Trevor Dunbar, an assistant coach for Virginia, was also present at the championships, hosted on UVA’s home turf. After receiving at-large bids, the women placed 15th, collecting one All-American honor, while the men finished 22nd.

At the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, UAF’s Kendall Kramer and Rosie Fordham celebrated All-American honors after finishing 23rd and 36th, respectively.

UAF’s Kendall Kramer and Rosie Fordham achieved All-American status at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. Photo by Nanooks XC

Kramer, the West Region and GNAC champion, started in the top half of the field and worked her way up throughout the race, held in Joplin, Mo.

She came through the first kilometer in 95th place before reaching the halfway point in 37th. The junior would continue to pick up speed, coming through the five-kilometer mark in 17:08, before finishing 23rd out of 260 competitors in 20:31, nearly mirroring her personal best from West Regionals.

This marks the third All-American honor for Kramer, after achieving the feat in both cross country and Nordic skiing as a sophomore.

As for Fordham, she got off to her signature quick start, coming through the first kilometer in 24th place. While her place fluctuated, she remained in the top 40 throughout the race’s entirety, putting herself in a position to achieve her first All-American honor.

The junior ran with grit, moving up two positions in the final kilometer to finish 36th with a time of 20:40 — a personal best by 15 seconds and her third consecutive time under the 21-minute barrier.

This marked the first time in program history that the Nanooks had two athletes achieve All-Americans at the cross country national meet.

Witnessing the historic feat were Naomi Bailey, Delainey Zock and Teegan Silva who made the 2,900-mile journey to cheer on their fellow UAF teammates.

“Kendall (Kramer) and Rosie (Fordham) did a fantastic job of executing their respective race plans in what was an extremely challenging and competitive environment,” said coach Conrad Haber in a press release. “I am really proud of what they were able to accomplish together.”

Also competing in the race was Palmer’s Sophie Wright.

The Western Washington junior placed 175th in her national championship debut, finishing in 22:15. Wright picked off ten competitors in the last kilometer, crossing the line as her team’s fifth runner. The Vikings placed 14th out of 34 teams.

Winona State’s Lindsay Cunningham won in an impressive 19:30, while Grand Valley State collected their seventh national title.

Kaleb Beloy

On the men’s side, Anchorage’s Kaleb Beloy led the charge as the top finisher among the Alaska contingent in 67th.

The CSU-Pueblo junior competed like a veteran in his national championship debut, moving up a whopping 117 places throughout the 10-kilometer race. After passing 15 competitors in the final kilometer, the former South High standout finished in 30:48 — 48 seconds quicker than his personal best set two weeks ago. Beloy was the second finisher for the Thunderwolves which placed 12th out of 34 teams.

Anchorage’s Brady Burrough, another debutant and South High grad, also competed at the championships.

The Fort Lewis sophomore started quickly, before finding his stride after the third kilometer. Burrough crossed the line in 125th, finishing as his team’s fourth runner, clocking 31:27 — four ticks shy of his personal best. The Skyhawks finished 13th, recording the best team result in program history.

The UAA men also capped their season at the national championships.

Competing in their first national meet as a team since 2018, the Seawolves were hopeful. But after struggling with illness, injuries, and without low-stick scorer Cole Nash, the team fell short. Michael Zapherson led UAA with a 174th-place finish (31:57), while Anchorage’s Ty Elliott was the Seawolves’ fourth scorer, as the team finished 34th.

West Texas A&M’s William Amponsah ran away with the win in 29:04, while Wingate won the team battle.

At the NAIA Cross Country Championships, held in Vancouver, Wash., Soldotna’s Erika Arthur made her national debut with Carroll College.

The junior got off to a strong start in the six-kilometer race, coming through the first kilometer in 3:47. Arthur continued through the undulating course before finishing in 24:27, placing 198th out of 331 competitors. She finished as the third runner for the Saints who placed 25th out of 36 teams.

Huntington’s Addy Wiley won the race in 21:04, while the College of Idaho collected the team title.

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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