OGDEN, Utah - Northern Arizona University's cross country program has been awarded yet another Big Sky accolade. Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins has been selected as the Big Sky Conference Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year. The 2013 recipients were chosen in a vote by the league's coaches earlier this week.
Heins led the Lumberjacks to their seventh consecutive and 24th overall Big Sky Championship title on Nov. 2 in Bozeman, Mont. Northern Arizona finished the meet with 25 points, 14 points ahead of second place Southern Utah, which finished with 39 points. This is Heins' seventh consecutive COY award, the most consecutively won by any men's or women's Big Sky coach.
"The credit goes to the athletes getting the job done and to the rest of the coaching staff," said Heins. "It feels great to be a part of something so special. We have a great system and we have been able to bring in some great student-athletes."
Northern Arizona swept the one, two and three spots with Matt McElroy winning with a time of 24:32.19. Teammate Brian Shrader was second with a time of 24.32.28, and Nathan Weitz was third with a time of 24:38.01. Josh Hardin also earned All-Big Sky honors finishing seventh with a time of 24:58.08. That individual title from McElroy was the ninth straight individual title for an NAU athlete and 23rd overall.
Heins began his coaching career as an assistant with Indiana in 2000, after which he served as a graduate assistant under Ron Mann from 2001-2003 here at NAU. From NAU he moved on to Southeast Missouri State for three seasons, where he coached teams to a total of six Ohio Valley Conference Championships. Heins was an assistant coach at Texas Christian University for one season before coming back to NAU in 2007 to become the head cross country coach. Heins was promoted to Director of Track & Field and Cross Country in 2010.
NAU cross country will compete next at the NCAA Mountain Regional Championships, to be held in Ogden, Utah on Nov. 15.