Cross Country Places Ninth at NCAA Championships
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Northern Arizona men's cross country team was able to navigate the windy LaVern Gibson Championship Course to claim ninth place overall (317 points) at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Monday afternoon. Juniors Diego Estrada (30:11) and Ahmed Osman (30:15) finished 16th and 19th, respectively, to gain All-American honors. It was the first All-American award for Estrada, and third for Osman.
The top-10 finish for the Lumberjacks gives them four straight, and eight since 2000.
Oklahoma State (73) successfully defended its national championship and was followed by Florida State (193) and Wisconsin (223).
Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins has guided the men's team to four-straight top-10 finishes and coached five different men to cross country All-American honors since 2007.
"Having both Diego and Ahmed finish top 20 overall was huge because neither of those guys were high school All-Americans and for them to do it at the collegiate level is special," Heins said.
"Landing a top-10 finish for the fourth-straight year is also something to be proud," Heins said. "This group of guys worked hard all season, finished first out of the Mountain Region teams and I am very happy for them."
After finishing fourth in the Mountain Region, NAU once again topped its regional opponents as New Mexico (16), Colorado (17) and BYU (18) all finished below the Lumberjacks.
For seniors Jason Pedersen, David McNeill and Eric Lynch, Monday's 10K wrapped up stellar careers for the trio.
Pedersen, a native of Simi Valley, Calif., placed 87th overall, his best finish at the NCAA Championships, and finished in a time of 30:58.
It was a tough day for McNeill as the senior was with the lead group through 5K, but suffered a side stitch and finished 101st overall. The Melbourne, Australia native closes out a stellar career that includes two 5,000-meter national championships and nine All-American awards.
Junior Andrew Belus rounded out the scoring for the Lumberjacks, placing 141st overall, eight spots higher than last year's championship race.
Belus was followed closely by teammate Tim Freriks. The sophomore from Cottonwood, Ariz., put together a solid debut at the NCAA meet, placing 146th overall in a time of 31:33.
It was a great finale for Lynch as the senior from Eugene, Ore., closed out his cross country career with a 165th-place finish. In his first NCAA Championship since 2007, Lynch improved 36 spots.