FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona cross country teams open its seasons Saturday with the 30th running of the George Kyte Classic. The lone home meet for the Lumberjacks takes place at Buffalo Park, with the women's 5K race set for 1:30 p.m. MST, and the men's race scheduled to follow at 2:15.
A dozen teams will make the trek to Flagstaff, including Arizona, Arizona State and UNLV. Also set to compete Saturday is the University of West Florida. The Division II Argonauts are making the 2,000 mile trip from Pensacola, Fla.
"I always enjoy the George Kyte, because it is a chance to compete in Flagstaff in front of our home fans," Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins said. "We have some great competition coming up not just from the state, but also nationally, as West Florida and the UNLV women will be racing here."
Last year, the Lumberjacks captured both titles at the rain-soaked event. Former NAU standout Veronica Pohl took home the women's title, and was followed closely by juniors Kortnee Burton (5th) and Haley Lawrence (11th). The team totaled 35 points on the day.
The projected lineup for the NAU women will feature a lot of new faces. Two true freshmen, Alexa Kearns and Sarah Raber, will make their collegiate debuts. Senior Danielle Hunt and sophomore Alex Meyers, both transfers to NAU, will also suit up. Junior Lissette Michaels and sophomore Lyndsey Rakestraw mark the lone returners in tomorrow's race.
The men's squad will feature familiar faces as senior Jason Pedersen will be competing in his fourth Kyte Classic. Senior Eric Lynch, juniors Andrew Belus and Joe Withers and sophomore Tim Freriks will also take to the 8K course for the Lumberjacks. Redshirt freshman Daniel Filipcik will make his debut tomorrow after sitting out the 2009 season.
The men's team captured last year's title with a total of 24 points. They were led by second and third place team-finishes by Belus and Pedersen. Junior Diego Estrada won the individual title while running unattached in the event, finishing in a time of 24:57.6.