FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona University's cross country's teams are slated to compete this weekend on October 19th. The Lumberjack men will travel to the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational which will be held on the beautiful Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. The Lumberjack women will travel to Terre Haute, Ind. for the NCAA Pre-National Invitational.
"This is always a big weekend," said director of track & field and cross country Eric Heins. "We're excited to compete against some of the best in the country."
On the men's side, NAU will line up against some of the top programs the nation has to offer. There are 16 nationally ranked teams competing in the men's 8K in Wisconsin, most notably No. 5 BYU, No. 6 Arkansas and No. 8 Columbia. The Lumberjacks are the highest ranked team competing as they currently sit at No. 3 in the country and will be favored to win.
"It's like a preview to the national championships because you have the majority of the best teams in the country competing," said Heins. "We're excited for it; it's the first chance to get our top nine runners to run together."
The NAU men will have to learn from their experience at this very same race last year in order to come out victorious on Saturday. The team finished a season-worst 13th as they struggled to cope with the challenge of running against such a large field. Senior Brian Shrader and sophomore Futsum Zienasellassie led the way for NAU finishing 28th and 31st, respectively.
"It's just a matter of being mentally prepared," said Heins. "We knew we were good last year after that race we just didn't get out fast enough. I believe the guys understand that better and they will get to the front pack of the race from the start."
The NAU women will be tested as they compete at the NCAA Pre-National Invitational which features the likes of 11 nationally ranked teams, most notably No. 2 Florida State and No. 6 Georgetown.
"We're excited to compete against the top teams in the country especially those in that No. 20-25 range," said assistant coach Leah Rosenfeld. "We feel like if we are clicking on all cylinders. We believe we can knock off a few of those teams."
The Lumberjack women will look to continue their success and prove themselves worthy of a national ranking. The team has been led by committee, as they have a very talented group of underclassmen who have impressed thus far. The NAU women will need contributions from everyone in order for the team to find success this weekend.
"Everyone has to step up, it can't just be on one person," said Rosenfeld. "I think they can definitely do it and they'll have more fun doing it together too."
This will be an exciting weekend for NAU cross country as they look to continue the success of this season. There will be live coverage of both the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational and the NCAA Pre-National Invitational on FloTrack.org. Follow NAU cross country's social media profiles for updates during the races.
Facebook: NAU Track & Field/XC