OGDEN, Utah – Coming off five straight indoor conference championships, the longest such streak in the Big Sky since 1993 when the Lumberjacks won seven straight, the Northern Arizona University men's team was pegged as the unanimous No. 1 team in the Big Sky's preseason poll today, as voted on by the coaches in the conference.
This is the ninth straight year the men's squad has been the favorite to win the Big Sky's Indoor Conference Championship, garnering 144 total points and all 12 first-place votes in Wednesday's poll. Given last season's outdoor preseason poll, cross country preseason poll and now this year's indoor preseason poll, the Lumberjack men have secured 36 of a possible 36 first-place votes.
Not to be forgotten, the women's team received 119 points and swiped three first-place votes of its own in the preseason rankings, placing second to conference foe Sacramento State. The NAU women finished sixth overall at indoor championships in 2016, with Jessica Weise (SP), Brooke Andersen (WT) and Paige Gilchrist (3000m) all earning All-Big Sky accolades. The women's 4x400m relay team secured the team's only gold medal at indoors last season.
To their credit, the men had 20 all-conference performances among 15 athletes at Big Sky indoors last year. Alumnus Futsum Zienasellassie was named the "Most Valuable Athlete" for the second-consecutive season after winning both the mile and 3000m events and running the final leg of the second-place NAU distance medley relay team.