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NAU Men Finish Sixth at NCAA Cross Country Championships

TERRE HAUTE, Ind.- With 281 points at the NCAA Championships Monday, the Northern Arizona men’s cross country team took sixth place. Sophomore David McNeill garnered All-American honors, as did junior Veronica Pohl in the women’s race. The NAU women took 23rd in their race.

Coupled with the men’s fourth-place finish at the 2007 Championships, this is only the second time in the program’s illustrious history that the Lumberjacks have posted back-to-back top-six finishes. In 1994 the NAU men finished fourth, and then took second in 1995.

“Anytime you can finish in the top 10 it’s a great day,” said Head Coach Eric Heins. “You could start talking about if this guy had done this or that we could have been here or there, but there are probably 10 teams out there who are saying that.”

McNeill was 15th overall and 13th in the team race with a time of 29:53. Senior Morten Bostrom took 35 points in 30:21, and Ben Ashkettle registered 49 points for the third NAU score.

In the final two spots for the Lumberjacks were Diego Estrada (60th) and Mark Fruin (124th), helping NAU to stay ahead of Portland who took seventh with 293 points.

Oregon won the men’s race ahead of Iona 93-147. The Ducks’ Galen Rupp won the much-anticipated individual battle in 29:03.2, separating from Liberty’s Sam Chelnaga in the home stretch.

The women’s race was won by Washington with 79 points as they bested rival Oregon who took second with 131. Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego became NCAA Cross Country’s first three-time champion with her victory in 19:28.1.

Northern Arizona junior Veronica Pohl led the Lumberjacks with a 16th overall finish, placing 12th in the team race with a time of 20:24.3.

“Veronica got out hard and was able to pick off a lot of people in the second half,” said Heins.

Sophomore Astrid Leutert also cracked the top-50 for 34 point and 43rd overall. “Both Veronica and Astrid ran great races today,” Heins said.

The usual line-up of Nell Rojas (132), Haley Lawrence (178), and Kortnee Burton (180), rounded out the Lumberjacks' top-five.

According to Heins, for those who have now made their national debut, there is a lot to take from the 23rd place ending. “How Astrid moved up from 149 last year to 43 this year really says a lot about the experience.”

With another year of NAU cross country in the books, and NAU taking it’s 43rd and 44th cross country All-Americans and it’s 15th top-10 NCAA finish away from Terre Haute, the Lumberjacks will focus on the future. “We’ll take our finishes this year and just continue to build on them,” concluded Heins.