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Cross Country to Race at NCAA Mountain Regional in Albuquerque

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After both teams claimed their third-straight Big Sky Cross Country Championship two weeks ago, the Northern Arizona cross country teams will compete in the NCAA Mountain Regional Championships Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M., on the campus of New Mexico. The men will compete on the UNM North Golf Course first at 10:45 a.m. MST, with the women’s race following at Noon.

“Our expectations for this weekend are to go into the races giving it our best shot to qualify for Nationals,” said Interim Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins. “Both teams are going to try and run good strong team races, and most of the individuals on the teams have their own goals in terms of where they would like to place. If they execute those goals then both teams have a good chance of finishing in the top two.”

If one, or both teams, finish in the top two, they will automatically qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind. At-large bids are also at stake Saturday for teams who do not finish in the top two. The announcement for teams receiving at-large bids will be made this Sunday.

The men’s team enters the regional race at the top of the standings, and fourth overall in the nation. The Lumberjacks jumped ahead of Colorado in the week six USTFCCCA regional rankings. The two schools have flip flopped at the top of the polls several times this season.

The women’s squad enters Saturday’s race at No. 5 in the Mountain Region after starting the season at the top of the polls.

Both teams will be going up against some of the best competition that the country has to offer. The men will be running against nationally ranked Colorado (5), New Mexico (12) and BYU (14). The women’s squad will also face stiff competition in Colorado (6), Texas Tech (8), New Mexico (20) and BYU (22).

Traveling to Albuquerque on the men’s side will be juniors Ben Ashkettle, Jordan Chipangama, Kam Holbrook, David McNeill and Jason Pedersen. Sophomores Andrew Belus and Ahmed Osman will also make the trip.

The women’s team will likely be represented Saturday by seniors Veronica Pohl and Nell Rojas, junior Astrid Leutert, sophomores Kortnee Burton, Eliza Gawryluk and Haley Lawrence and freshman Torin Shriver.

Last year the men received an automatic bid for their second-place finish, while the women received an at-large bid when they came in third. McNeill won the men’s race crossing the stripe first in a time of 29:18 in the 10,000m event. Pohl, Leutert and Rojas were All-Mountain Region award winners for their top-15 finishes last year in Fort Collins, Colo.

Become a fan of NAU Athletics on facebook to receive team results after the races conclude Saturday.