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NAU's Smith Named Big Sky Women's "Coach of the Year"

NAU's Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Mike Smith
NAU's Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Mike Smith

OGDEN, Utah – The Big Sky Conference office announced Wednesday afternoon that Northern Arizona University Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Mike Smith was named the 2017 Women's "Coach of the Year" for his leadership during the team's run at their 10th outdoor title in school history over the weekend.

Smith—who assumed full-time duties of the cross country and track & field programs in December—has now secured three of a possible four Big Sky "COTY" accolades, as he also nabbed both such honors after the men and women swept indoor conference championships back in February. Additionally, the Lumberjacks' Director of TF/XC earned the NCAA Mountain Region Women's "COTY" title at the conclusion of the 2017 indoor season, so it certainly has been a great start to Smith's coaching career at NAU.

Of course, as Smith will be the first to admit, none of it is possible without the assistance he receives from his coaching staff and his support staff. Coaches Kenny McDaniel (Sprints/Hurdles), Nathan Ott (Throws), Becca DeLoache (Distance), Roderick Townsend (GA—Jumps), Jarred Cornfield (GA—Distance), Carl Caughell and Ty Butts all bring unparalleled knowledge and contributions to the profession that directly transfers into the success of the program, while Sam Lackey (Assistant—Strength and Conditioning), Dallas Charles (GA—Strength and Conditioning), Jeffery Trudo (GA—Sports Medicine) and Jenna Krizo (GA—Sports Medicine) all make sure the athletes are the healthiest, most well-conditioned in the entire conference.

Last Friday and Saturday at 2017 Big Sky Outdoor Championships, the Lumberjacks outlasted second-place Montana by nine points for a thrilling victory in Sacramento, Calif. Seven NAU women totaled 17 All-Big Sky performances. In fact, three of those seven athletes took home individual conference championships: Jasmine Malone (400m), Maggie Carruth (800m) and Shanice McPherson (long jump). Both relay teams (4x1, 4x4) also won conference titles. Compared to the outdoor championship the Lumberjack women won in 2016, NAU recorded seven more All-Big Sky performances at championships this season.

Historically, the outdoor title marked the fifth time the Lumberjack women's TF/XC program pulled off the "Triple Crown." The "Triple Crown" refers to when a TF/XC program wins three conference championships in the same academic year (cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field). It was the first time the NAU women have accomplished such a feat since the 2005-06 school year.