Cross-country season preview

September 3, 2014
I AM UAA: Dylan Anthony

I AM UAA: Dylan Anthony (Photo by Philip Hall/University of Alaska Anchorage)

History and Anthropology double major, Class of 2015
Hometown: Kodiak, Alaska
Fun Fact: Works as a lifeguard at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex

Cross-country is among the simplest sports in theory, but among the most grinding in practice. All a team needs is a few lean running machines, ideally some top-flight shoes, a direction, a destination and some hefty determination.

Due to the sport’s simplicity, practice can take place pretty much anywhere. Although the UAA team meets at the Alaska Airlines Center, they often quickly pile into vans bound for Arctic Valley, Kincaid Park or the Russian Jack golf course for practice. The new athletic facility, though, does have a few indoor advantages to the team on the run. An underwater treadmill assists with long-term injuries. The NASA-developed anti-gravity treadmill allows for stress-free running (assistant coach T.J. Garlatz took it for a spin in July). And the runners get a team-specific locker room downstairs.

Dylan Anthony will be among the leaders for the men’s team this year. He’s one of two seniors on the squad, and a (relatively) local runner on a roster where Kenyans outnumber Alaskans 4-to-3. Originally from Kodiak, he’s happy to be at UAA. “There’s a really cool running community in Anchorage,” he said. “It’s definitely fun to be a part of.”

 2013 GNAC Championships

Dylan and Isaac Kangogo at last year’s GNAC Championships, which the UAA men’s team won for the fifth year in a row. (Photo courtesy of UAA Athletics)

Dylan’s been running for nearly a decade—“I ran in middle school, if you can really even call that running,” he joked—and led the Seawolves last year, finishing first overall in three of the teams six races. But he’s not the type to claim success or status. He’s simply there to have a good time.

He says the goofiness of his Kodiak teammates first drew him to the sport. “Originally, it was the people,” he said of his decision to start racing. “At least in high school, it was a weirder crowd—a more fun crowd of people to be around than other sports.”

After high school, he thought he might be done with running—his coaches had other ideas. He first headed south to California to enroll at Chico State, where he redshirted his first season and trained in the foothills of the Cascades. It was a short-lived transition. “I left the state for a semester and I pulled a typical Alaska kid thing where I just came back,” he explained.

Returning home, he figured his cross-country days were done… until he discovered a former coach had been plotting to keep him on the run. “My high school coach was just pushing me to go [to UAA], so he did all of the legwork and called them up,” Dylan explained. “I didn’t even talk to them until he had basically worked the whole thing out.”

Thankfully, Dylan has been able to bring some of the offbeat energy that first drew him to join cross-country in Kodiak. When asked if there are any team traditions at UAA, Dylan reflects a moment before adding, “We like to catch leaves. It kind of becomes a game.” Likewise, the combined track and cross-country Twitter account is a running tally of impressive accomplishments, record-breaking achievements and the occasional wacky team photo.

In a sport where many athletes approach training with a religious fervor, Dylan is refreshingly casual about his relationship to the sport. For him, thinking and strategizing get in the way, so he clears his head while he’s shivering at the starting line and just runs. Don’t look to him for sage running wisdom—the best method for success, it seems, is just to wing it.

“I don’t try to think about it,” he said of his race-day tactics, “because if I do I just start worrying and it turns into a bomb dive out of control. Any time I make a strategy with the coaches it never works, so I think they just learned that and kind of say ‘just go for it.’”

2012 NCAA Div. II West Region Championships

Dylan and Isaac Kangogo completing the course at the 2012 NCAA Div. II West Region Championships in Kahuku, Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of UAA Athletics)

He’s nonchalant about his efforts, but his record shows otherwise. “I don’t really remember how I won those three races,” he said of his record last season, quickly adding, “they weren’t big races.” With the graduations of Kenyan superstars Marko Cheseto and Micah Chelimo, Dylan wound up in pole position to lead the team in 2013. He rattled off two individual victories on the team’s annual Hawaii road trip (the team won both meets as well). Back in the Northwest, he finished first overall out of 143 runners in the Willamette Invite (UAA topped 15 other teams to take the title again).

He earned All-American honors the past two seasons for finishing in the top 40 at nationals. In 2012, the team even finished third in the country behind an individual first-place finish from Micah Chelimo. “It was really good for us,” Dylan said of the final result his sophomore season. “I don’t know how we got third. It was a big surprise.”

Last year it was the women’s turn to make their mark, placing fourth at nationals while the men’s team finished seventh. Both teams won conference titles and Coach Michael Friess earned dual GNAC Coach of the Year awards. UAA cross-country is a program with potential, and Dylan is excited about the season ahead

“We lost quite a few people this year for cross-country, so it will be interesting to see who fills in some spots,” he said. “I think this season will be especially fun because we have a big team. I feel like all the other years we’ve had less than 10 guys, but there are a ton of new kids this year and it will be fun to have a bigger group atmosphere.”

True to form, his answer focuses on the camaraderie and energy of the team and belies the roster’s potential. With a new training facility and a quintet of freshmen (including Edwin Kangogo, the third Kangogo brother to don the Seawolves jersey) the team could see several more stellar seasons ahead.

Dylan graduates next May, and he plans to focus on the lighter side of running. “There’s still a lot of stuff I want to do,” he said. “I think mountain racing is fun, I’d like to do the Klondike [a 175km ten-leg road relay between Skagway and Whitehorse), just more fun races.” His thoughts on the recent 6 Days in the Dome ultra-endurance race? “Six days seems like a bit much,” he laughed.

2013 GNAC championship

Dylan at the 2013 GNAC championships in Monmouth, Ore. (Photo courtesy of UAA Athletics)

The team is currently on their annual road trip to Hawaii, kicking off their season against University of Hawaii at Hilo last Saturday. Local fans have a rare chance to catch the Seawolves in action on Thursday, Sept. 11, when the team hosts Willamette University in Chugiak—it’s the first home meet for the team since 2011.

Click here to see the 2014 cross-country schedule.

Click here to read Dylan’s stats on


Written by J. Besl, UAA Office of University Advancement   

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