OGDEN, Utah – Northern Arizona Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins was named men's cross country coach of the year by the Big Sky Conference Tuesday afternoon after his team claimed the conference title for the fourth-straight season. This is Heins' fourth consecutive honor from the Big Sky, tying him with former NAU head coach, Ron Mann, for the most consecutive men's cross country coach of the year awards in conference history.
"I was fortunate to come into a program that was on its way up and has historically been a top program in the Big Sky," Heins said. "We've been privileged enough to add to the school's title count by recruiting the right guys that have brought us to the top. I am really grateful for the team that we have right now."
The men's team scored 19 points at the conference championship from Cheney, Wash., on Oct. 30, and was led by senior David McNeill who claimed his third-straight individual title. The Lumberjacks finished all seven runners in the top 12, placing the five scorers in the top 10.
With another Big Sky season in the books, Heins is looking forward to duplicating the team's success for many years in the conference.
"Our goal is to win that fifth one in a row since no other team has done it on the men's side," Heins said. "That was something we even looked at two years ago when we first went back-to-back. It is always hard to accomplish the feat because injuries pop up and our opponents get better, but it will definitely be our goal."
The postseason continues for the Lumberjacks this weekend as both teams head to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the NCAA Mountain Region Championships. The women's six-kilometer race will begin Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. MST., followed by the men's 10-kilometer race at 11:45 a.m. MST.