NEW ORLEANS, La. – With the cross country season set to begin this weekend, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) put out its first polls of the 2010 season. The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks found themselves tied at No. 3 with the University of Oregon in the men's national poll, as well as first in the Mountain Region. The women's team landed at No. 7 in the region to begin the season.
The men's squad collected 329 points in the National Cross Country Coaches' Poll to stand in third behind preseason favorite Stanford (349), and the 2009 national champion Oklahoma State Cowboys (339). The Lumberjacks also received one of twelve first-place votes.
Last year the team opened up at No. 5 in the coaches' poll, and climbed up as high as No. 2 during the season. The team closed out the year with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA National Championships, and was led by seniors David McNeill (2nd) and Jordan Chipangama (5th) who finished as the first duo in NAU history to land in the top five at a national championship event.
The Mountain Region once again offers stiff competition as three of its men's teams finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships last fall. NAU claimed fourth, Colorado sixth, and New Mexico took eighth.
Both teams open the season Saturday as they host the 30th running of the George Kyte Classic at Buffalo Park. The women's 5K race is set for 1:30 p.m., with the men's 8K set to follow at 2:15.