Longtime running coach Friess retires from UAA after 29 years

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - UAA’s longtime running coach Michael Friess announced his retirement Tuesday morning after working at UAA for 29 years. Under his leadership, UAA cross country and track and field teams became a Division II powerhouse in the Western Conference, collecting 15 NCAA individual national champions and 178 All-Americans since he began in 1990.

“It has been an amazing journey, and I am so grateful for all that the university has offered me and my family,” said Friess, a multi-time winner of the Coach of the Year by GNAC, USTFCCCA and PacWest, “I’ve been blessed with an amazing wife, beautiful family, my fellow coaches and community friends, incredible student athletes, so many memories, and all in a place that I’ve always called home, Alaska.”

In a press release, Friess said he hopes to spend more time with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

“I certainly do not rule out a future return to college coaching or working with a local nonprofit as I remain passionate about collegiate cross country and track as well as being positively involved in my community, but for now I’m going to focus on other aspects of life,” he said.

He also said he hopes to visit some of his former athletes in some of their home countries. Friess notably helped establish a long line of successful athletes from Kenya. One of them, Caroline Kurgat, recently claimed her seventh Division II title.

Greg Myford, the UAA Director of Athletics, thanked Friess for building what he called an “elite program.”

"Most coaches coach because of a built-in desire to teach, compete and win,” Myford said, “But most coaches never get to the point of doing that consistently and successfully enough that they leave a legacy of excellence in the process,” said Greg Myford Director of Athletics.

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