FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With a
handful of races under their belts, the NAU cross country teams
head to Terre Haute, Ind. this weekend to take part in the Indiana
State Pre-Nationals Invitational. The men will take the course
first at 8:00 a.m. MST, and the women will follow at 9:55 a.m.
After an off week following the Cowboy Jamboree, Interim Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins has his teams excited and prepared to race Saturday morning.
“Our strategy’s this weekend will differ with the men looking to have three to four guys that can finish in the top 25,” Heins said. “We want to put ourselves into that position where we can finish that high. In the women’s race we are a little more spread out, but we have two to three girls that can move into that top 30. That is what we will shoot for as our goal.”
Heading to Indiana this weekend from the men’s team will be juniors Ben Ashkettle, Jordan Chipangama, Jason Pedersen and David McNeill. Sophomores Andrew Belus, Diego Estrada and Ahmed Osman will also race Saturday.
For McNeill, this will be his first race of the season after a long summer that included a second-place finish in the 5,000m final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., in June. McNeill also competed in the 10,000m final at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Germany, where he ran for his home country of Australia. After practicing with his teammates for a few weeks, McNeill is excited to hit the course Saturday.
“I started thinking about this race a couple of weeks ago,” McNeill said. “I have been back running for six weeks now and I am feeling fit. I am looking forwa rd to do what I love, and that is going out and racing.
Although McNeill hasn’t taken part in any races yet this season, his teammates have picked up the slack and helped the team vault up the rankings to No. 2 in the nation.
“For me to have the kind of talent on our team it helps because now in practice I have three training partners at the front, where as last year it was kind of just me alone,” McNeill said. “It makes your job more enjoyable. What they did at Oklahoma, and adding me to the mix this weekend, it is very exciting.”
This will be the stiffest test thus far for the Lumberjacks this season with the men’s field consisting of 72 teams, including four of the top-five ranked teams in nation. In the women’s race, 75 squads will hit the course with many top-ranked opponents participating.
Traveling to Indiana on the women’s side will be senior Nell Rojas, juniors Nikki Codd and Astrid Leutert, sophomores Kortnee Burton, Eliza Gawryluk and Haley Lawrence and freshman Torin Shriver.
Last year at Pre-Nationals, the women finished 10th out of 39 teams and the men took second place out of 41 squads, with McNeill finishing second overall.
May 2, 2010 Athletics Department Hands Out Annual Awards
February 1, 2010 Nine Cross Country Athletes Named All-Academic Big Sky
December 4, 2009 Heins Named Big Sky Coach of the Year
November 23, 2009 McNeill Finishes Runner Up; Lumberjacks Claim Fourth Place
November 20, 2009 Lumberjacks to Compete at Cross Country Championships Monday
November 18, 2009 McNeill Named Mountain Region Athlete of the Year
November 17, 2009 Lumberjacks Slip in Latest USTFCCCA Rankings
November 15, 2009 Mens Team Receives At-Large Bid to NCAA Championships
November 14, 2009 McNeill Repeats; Men Finish Fourth, Women Seventh at Mountain Regional
November 12, 2009 Cross Country to Race at NCAA Mountain Regional in Albuquerque
November 3, 2009 Mens Team Climbs to No. 4 in Latest USTFCCCA Rankings
October 31, 2009 Lumberjacks Sweep Big Sky Cross Country Championships
October 30, 2009 Big Sky Conference Championship Start Time Pushed Back
October 28, 2009 Cross Country to Run in Big Sky Championships Saturday
October 20, 2009 Chipangama, Pohl Named Big Sky Cross Country Athletes of the Week
October 20, 2009 Lumberjacks Drop in Latest USTFCCCA Polls
October 17, 2009 Cross Country Teams Turn in Solid Efforts at Pre-Nationals
October 16, 2009 'Jack of All Trades by Amy Farnum of NCAA.com
October 15, 2009 Watch The Lumberjacks Compete Live at Pre-Nationals Saturday
October 14, 2009 Lumberjacks Gear Up for Pre-Nationals Invitational
October 8, 2009 Freriks Already Making Impact in Young Career
October 6, 2009 Lumberjacks Move Up in USTFCCCA Rankings
October 5, 2009 Cowboy Jamboree Highlights and Interviews
October 3, 2009 Chipangama Leads Lumberjacks to Cowboy Jamboree Men's Title
September 30, 2009 Cross Country to Compete in ASU Invitational and Cowboy Jamboree
September 29, 2009 Lumberjacks Stand Firm in USTFCCCA Rankings
September 22, 2009 Pohl Named Big Sky Conference Womens Cross Country Athlete of the Week
September 19, 2009 Pohl, Chipangama Lead Lumberjacks to Titles at Aztec Invitational
September 15, 2009 Lumberjacks Head West for Aztec Invitational
September 15, 2009 Cross Country Teams in Preseason USTFCCCA Rankings
September 8, 2009 Pohl Claims First Women's Cross Country Athlete of The Week Award
September 5, 2009 Lumberjacks Capture Rain-Soaked George Kyte Classic Titles
September 1, 2009 Cross Country to Host George Kyte Classic Saturday
August 24, 2009 2009 Cross Country Season Preview
August 19, 2009 George Kyte Classic Registration Information
August 17, 2009 McNeill Finishes 24th at World Championships; Lomong Advances
August 15, 2009 Former Lumberjack Lomong Advances in 1,500 at Worlds
August 14, 2009 Lomong and McNeill to Compete in IAAF World Championships
June 28, 2009 Former Olympian Lomong Wins 1500, Qualifies for Worlds