PALO ALTO, Calif. – It was another stellar day at the office for senior David McNeill of the Northern Arizona men's cross country team. In his season debut, McNeill blazed past the loaded field at the 37th Stanford Invitational Saturday to claim the men's individual title and aid the men's team to a third-place finish. The Lumberjacks finished behind No. 1 Stanford and No. 15 Arkansas on the day. The women's team ran to a 17th-place finish in the first 6K race of the season for the squad.
Running alone most of the race, McNeill turned in a winning time of 23:18 on the 8K Stanford Golf Course, besting the field by four seconds. It was the fifth individual cross country title for the Melbourne, Australia native.
"I had high expectation for myself," McNeill said. "I didn't live up to them today and slowed down a bit towards the end of the race. I still walk away happy about the win, but not going out there the way I wanted definitely gets me fired up for the next races."
McNeill will now head to Florida to do some training before jetting halfway across the globe to Dehli, India where he will compete for his home country of Australia in the 5,000-meter run at the Commonwealth Games Oct. 9.
"I think it all fits in well with the Commonwealth Games and the NCAA National Championships," McNeill said." The last few weeks of track work will help make me sharper for the cross country post season."
Senior Jason Pedersen turned in a time of 24:15 for 19th place, and was followed by a barefoot Andrew Belus in 23rd.
Just over 800 meters into the race, Belus lost one of his spikes after another competitor stepped on him from behind. The junior from Phoenix quickly ran to the side of the course and shed his remaining shoe for the rest of the race.
"It was pretty fun," said Belus who has been turning in a lot of barefoot miles in training. "It was not a big transition for me since I've been doing a lot of barefoot work. At first I paused quickly, but I didn't worry about it."
Sophomore Tim Freriks (24:47) was the fourth finisher for the Lumberjacks, crossing the stripe in 45th. He was followed by freshman Bahlbi Gebreyohanns (25:01) who took 56th in his collegiate debut. Junior Matthew Coloe (80) and sophomore Joe Withers (85) were the sixth and seventh finishers for the team, respectively.
The women's squad was led by junior Lisette Michaels who finished 54th in a time of 22:25 in her first career 6K race. She was followed by sophomores Lyndsey Rakestraw (22:49) and Alex Myers (23:32) who finished 74th and 94th, respectively.
The Lumberjacks will have a three-week break before they head to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Pre-Nationals on Oct. 16.