PROVO, Utah – Diego Estrada and Rochelle Kanuho led a group of seven Northern Arizona University cross country athletes who were named to the All-Region team at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships Saturday. The NAU men placed third as a team, while the women placed seventh.
"Our men really epitomized our last month of training with this race," said Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Eric Heins. "They ran well at the Big Sky Championships, and today we executed our race plan perfectly again."
The No.12 men's team rode a pair of top-five finishes from Estrada (4th) and Jordan Chipangama (5th) to a team mark that placed all five scoring runners on the All-Region team and earned a team score of 69. The Lumberjack men's finish should earn them an at-large berth to the NCAA National Championships, to be held on Nov. 21 at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
The Lumberjacks' third, fourth, and fifth runners all finished considerably higher than their marks at the 2010 regional meet. Tim Freriks' 11th-place overall finish was 30 spots better than his finish at last year's regional meet, Matt Coloe (24th) was 22 places higher than last year, and Andrew Belus (25th) improved by seven spots.
The NAU men's two postseason newcomers, freshman Caleb Hoover and senior John Yatsko, finished close behind the scoring runners in 38th and 43rd, respectively.
Kanuho, a redshirt junior, led a rebuilt and rejuvenated Lumberjack women's squad to a finish eight spots better than they did last year at the regional meet.
The 2010 campaign for the women was hampered by the departure of graduating seniors, as well as key injuries to team leaders Kortnee Burton and Haley Lawrence. Both runners were back this season, along with Kanuho and four new runners, giving the Lumberjack women confidence going into next season and beyond.
"Rochelle and Kortnee ran tough up front for us today," said Heins. "Their finishes were huge for us in accomplishing our goal of finishing higher than our ranking. We're just going to keep building on this success with our young runners for next year."
Kanuho (16th) and Burton (17th) were the only two female competitors to finish on the All-Region team for the Lumberjacks, but were joined in the Top-50 by freshman Caroline Hogardh in 44th. Lawrence (62nd), running in her final cross country race for NAU, and freshman Lauren Justus (65th) rounded out the scoring for the women. Freshman Kylee Kieser and junior transfer Agnes Laurent were close behind in 67th and 76th, respectively.
The lineups for the NCAA National Championships, to be held in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 21, will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 13, no later than 1 p.m. Arizona time.