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October 18, 2013

NAU Athletics Mourns the Loss of an All-Time Great

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona athletic department mourns the loss of former cross country and track & field athlete Johanna Nilsson, who passed away on Tuesday, June 25th.

"Johanna had an outgoing personality and always made her teammates smile," said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins. "She was an amazing runner and had a huge heart for everyone around her."

Johanna, a native of Kalmar, Sweden, was a standout athlete for the Lumberjacks. During her career she won four NCAA Championships and 10 Big Sky Conference championships. In 2006, Nilsson was named NCAA Division I Women's Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. That same year she won the mile at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships by more than two seconds in 4:37.78, then returned to the track 90 minutes later to win the 3,000-meter run in a personal-best 9:06.6. Johanna currently holds four school records, including the mile, 3,000m, 1,500m and was part of the record holding distance medley relay team.

"Johanna was a very vivacious and caring young lady with a passion for running," said former head coach Ron Mann. "She was a joy to coach and I am very saddened by her passing."

Over the course of their careers, Johanna and her sister Ida Nilsson compiled a total of six national championships, 19 All-American awards, 11 Big Sky indoor championships, 12 Big Sky outdoor championships and were inducted into the NAU Hall of Fame in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

"On behalf of the entire NAU athletics department, our condolences go out to Johanna's family, her friends and NAU teammates," NAU Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Lisa Campos said.