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Lumberjacks to Open Cross Country Season with George Kyte Classic

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona Cross Country will open its season Saturday at the 31st running of the George Kyte Classic.  The Lumberjacks' only home meet, held at Buffalo Park, is slated to begin with the women's race at 1:30 p.m. MST, followed by the men at 2:15.

Thirteen teams will travel to Flagstaff for the meet, including in-state competitors Arizona and Arizona State. Other teams from Arizona scheduled to compete include Arizona Christian, Grand Canyon University, Pima Community College, and Scottsdale Community College.

"One of the great things about hosting George Kyte in Flagstaff is being able to see in-state teams that we may not see otherwise during the rest of the year," said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins. 

Heins is looking forward to seeing his teams compete in their first competition setting this season.

"We have only been practicing at altitude for a little more than a week, so we're looking to see where each team is at in terms of levels of competition," said Heins.  "Being at 7,000 feet is different for each runner, so we're just trying to figure out how that affects our teams."

Last year's meet resulted in a team title for the Lumberjack men and a third place finish for the women.  The men's team placed three finishers in the top five and completed their team score of 31 with top-15 finishes from Daniel Filipcik (ninth) and Bahlbi Gebreyohanns (12th).  New Lumberjack graduate assistant coach Jason Pedersen led the team last year with a second place overall finish.

The projected lineup for the Lumberjack men includes a few new faces in freshmen Caleb Hoover, Chris Ganem, Caleb Potts, and Cody Reed, but will be comprised of many returners from last year's team.  Sophomores Gebreyohanns and Filipcik, along with junior Tim Freriks, who finished fourth last year, hope to improve on their finishes from last year.  Junior Myles Kloer and seniors John Yatsko and Matt Coloe round out the list of Lumberjacks competing on the men's side.  Standouts Diego Estrada, Jordan Chipangama, and Andrew Belus are not competing this weekend.
On the women's side, the projected lineup is loaded with new talent that will be competing in Lumberjack gold and blue for the first time.  Freshman competitors include Lauren Justus, Sarah Baker, twin sisters Shayla and Kayla Freeman, Kelly Fruth, and Kerri Lenihan.  Returners include junior Lisette Michaels and sophomore Sarah Raber, the only Lumberjack runners who competed in last year's meet, as well as seniors Rochelle Kanuho, a native of Flagstaff, and Haley Lawrence. Lawrence returns to action after a being sidelined all of last year with an injury.  Sophomores Carissa Gwerder and Emily Fuld, along with junior Lauren Hill, complete the roster for the Lumberjack women competing on Saturday.