FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After a three-week hiatus from competition, the Northern Arizona cross country teams will compete Saturday at the Pre-Nationals Invitational hosted by Indiana State. The men's team will compete in the 8,000m 'Blue Race' which is scheduled for 9:10 a.m. PDT. The women will follow at 10:30 a.m. in the 6,000m 'Open Race.'
Making his 2010 season debut for the Lumberjacks will be two-time All-American, Ahmed Osman. The junior from San Diego, Calif., has been working hard with the team in practice and is ready to contribute a strong effort in Saturday's race.
"I am more fit going into this season then I was last year since I was fasting," Osman said. "Hopefully I can turn in a good race. We will see once I cross the finish line."
Osman closed out the 2010 track and field season with his second-straight All-American honor in the 10,000-meter run, as well as capturing the NACAC Under-23 10K title in Miramar, Fla., this past July.
"That win in Florida was a huge confidence boost for me going into this season," Osman said. "I didn't have a great 2009 cross country season, so I am ready to improve on it this year. I can't predict where I will finish this weekend, but it will be good for me to see where my fitness level is."
The fifth-ranked Lumberjacks will encounter stiff competition in Saturday's race from 13 ranked teams, including No. 1 Stanford, No. 12 Princeton, No. 15 Florida State, No. 18 Iona, No. 20 Michigan State, No. 26 UCLA, No. 27 William & Mary and No. 30 Florida. Big Sky foes Montana and Montana State will also be competing in the same race.
NAU's men's lineup will feature senior Jason Pedersen, juniors Andrew Belus, Matt Coloe, Diego Estrada and Osman, sophomore Tim Freriks and freshman Balhbi Gebreyohanns.
The women's squad will be led by sophomore Rochelle Kanuho who captured the individual title at last week's Grand Canyon/Southwestern Invite from Tempe, Ariz. She will be joined by senior Danielle Hunt, junior Lisette Michaels, sophomore Alex Myers and freshmen Carissa Gwerder and Sarah Raber.
Last year the Lumberjacks secured a third-place team finish from the men, and were led by senior Jordan Chipangama and Estrada who finished third and fourth, respectively. The women's team placed 14th overall, and was led by graduated senior Veronica Pohl.
Action from the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind., can be seen live on Flotrack.org.