FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With their sites set on big
accomplishments this season, the Northern Arizona cross country
teams found themselves ranked in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross
Country Coaches Association polls Tuesday morning. The women
claimed the top spot in the Mountain Region with the men second in
the region behind Colorado.
“It was a pleasant surprise to see the ladies ranked number one in the region,” said Interim Track and Field Director Eric Heins. “It is nice to have that respect from our representative who seems to think that we have one of the top teams. For the men to be ranked in the top two this early in the year is more of a sign of respect I believe. We have to go out and back that up now.”
Both teams also appear in the preseason national rankings. The
men are ranked fifth in the polls, with the women coming in at 16th
overall in the nation.
Helping lead the women to their preseason top ranking is the core of seniors, All-American Veronica Pohl and Nell Rojas, and junior Astrid Leutert. Those three give the women’s team the leadership to succeed. The squad will also be counting of the contributions of returnees such as juniors Nikki Codd and Amanda Griggs and sophomores Haley Lawrence and Kortnee Burton. They also add newcomer Eliza Gawryluk to the mix as well.
For the men, returning junior two-time cross country All-American David McNeill helps solidify their spot near the top of the rankings. The team will also be counting on contributions from juniors Ben Ashkettle and Jordan Chipangama and sophomores Diego Estrada and Ahmed Osman.
Also appearing in the preseason rankings from the Big Sky Conference on the men’s side are Weber State (7), Montana (11) and Montana State (12). Two other women’s teams from the conference are also included in the rankings with Weber State at number nine and Montana at number 11.
The Lumberjacks head west this weekend to take part in the Aztec Invitational hosted by San Diego State.