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A Step in the Right Direction for Women's Cross Country

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Northern Arizona University's women's cross country team traveled to the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet where it garnered a 22nd place finish in the women's 6K.

"Overall it was an okay day; not great but it wasn't bad either," said assistant coach Leah Rosenfeld. "I think the quality of teams showed as we competed against about a dozen ranked teams."

NAU traveled a young but talented group of runners, many of whom have never ran in a race of this magnitude. The meet allowed for the team to compete against some of the best in the country. The Lumberjacks were led by freshman Paige Gilchrist who finished 65th with a time of 21:12.82 against the field of 340.

"Paige has been extremely consistent since she got here," said Rosenfeld. "She holds herself to high standards and it shows in her performances."

Gilchrist felt the pressure of running against such a large field for the first time.

"It was intimidating," said Gilchrist. "I was kind of a mess in the morning but once I got out there it was about just staying focused and remaining calm."

The NAU women also received contributions from Rolonda Jumbo (119th), Carolyn Bethel (127th), Jamie Shrader (196th), Kelly Fruth (216th), Vanessa Estrada (237th), and Kylee Kieser (251st).

"It just shows that we have a lot of work to do in order to get into the national ranks," said Rosenfeld. "We have a young team with a lot of room to grow."

The NAU women will look to improve before traveling to Bozeman, Mont. for the Big Sky Conference Championships. The team was picked to finished second in the preseason poll garnering one first place vote.