FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The UAF Cross Country Program hosted the inaugural Blue and Gold Run Fest Saturday morning.
The event began with a 5K community run, featuring all 10 Nanook athletic programs cheering on the 30 or so participants. Afterwards, it was the student athletes' turn to take on the UAF trails. The Nanooks invited the Seawolves to the race for a head-to-head tune-up before the official season begins.
UAA brought a strong cross country program to compete as the men's team was picked to place first in the GNAC preseason poll, while the women are projected to finsih second. The program has won 8 of the last 9 conference titles.
The top three finishers among men were Seawolves. The first Nanook to cross the finish line was Senior Lukash Platil, completing the 7K in a time of 23 minutes and 26 seconds. Platil was named team MVP last season, and is also a part of the Nordic ski program. Jacob Walsh and Jack Matherly followed behind him for the Nanooks, placing seventh and ninth overall respectively. UAF's men's team was projected to place ninth in the GNAC by the coaches, which is about where they have finished in the past. Platil and the rest of the team are hoping to prove some people wrong this year.
"The last few years we have finished about 8th to 10th in GNAC. So, our all-time while I was on the team is 8th place, I would really like to push that," the senior said. "If we can hang with the front pack at GNACs, it would a huge, huge achievement for us."
It was a similar result for the women's 5K, as the Seawolves swepted the top three spots.
Finishing first for the Nanooks, was Kenai product Alex Bergholtz, with a time of 19:41. Bergholtz is in her senior year now, and represented UAF at the NCAA West Region Championships last year.
Placing second for the Nanooks was Anja Maijala at 20-28, while Mariel Pulles placed seconds behind her for UAF.
UAF hasn't had the opportunity to run in front of Fairbanks for several years. Bergholtz says it is nice to know the community was backing them through the uncertain offseason.
"It was fun, I love racing with people cheering on the side of our course. When we travel, we maybe have our teammates and a parent, but here it was nice because we had all of the other teams, all of the supporting athletic staff and even some of our teachers out and so it was really great to have the community out here," Bergholtz said.
"It was a confusing summer, just because we didn't know what was going on with our team, but that just kind of makes us feel a lot more motivated this year, because we know that our community is backing us up," Bergholtz said of the uncertain offseason. "I think being with our team, and seeing our community out here today, we know that we can do great and that we have our community supporting us, so we are excited to be back."
The first official meet of the season will come next weekend, when both UAF Cross Country teams travel to Monmouth, Oregon to compete in the Ash Creek Invitational.
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