OGDEN, Utah – Junior Diego Estrada of the Northern Arizona cross country team was named the men's Big Sky Athlete of the Week by the conference Wednesday afternoon after finishing fifth overall in the 'Blue Race' at the Pre-Nationals Invitational this past Saturday. This is the first career award for the Salinas, Calif., native during the cross country season.
With another solid performance in the can for Estrada, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins is excited to see what the junior has in store for the Big Sky Championships.
"I think his training is on the up and up which makes his workouts even better," Heins said. "He is excited to race at a Big Sky event once again alongside his teammates. I know he will be aiming to finish as high as he can."
The top-five finish for Estrada is his fifth in as many races, and Heins knows that his frontrunner mentality will help him persevere this postseason.
"He wants to push himself as hard as he can for as long as possible," Heins said of Estrada. "He knows he won't be successful sitting in the back, so he needs to be up front so that he can gain confidence. Even when he is tiring in a race, just being up front keeps him going."
Estrada's top mark led the men's team to a fourth-place finish behind No. 1 Stanford, No. 4 Iona and No. 8 Florida State.
In the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national polls, the Lumberjack men fell from the fifth spot to No. 11. Despite the dip in the national rankings, they still lead the way in the Mountain Region.
The NAU women's team received 12 votes in the USTFCCCA national polls this week, putting them at No. 33 overall. This is the first time in 2010 that the women's squad has received votes in the national rankings.
The Lumberjacks' next competition will be at the Big Sky Cross Country Championships from Spokane, Wash., on Oct. 30. Both teams will be vying to repeat as conference champions.