Lumberjack Women Head to Minneapolis for First National Meet of Season

NAU's Melanie Townsend
NAU's Melanie Townsend

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University women's cross country team travels to Minneapolis, Minn., this weekend for the squad's first national race of the season: the Roy Griak Invitational hosted by the University of Minnesota.

"Our women are geared up and ready to go," said Head Coach Eric Heins. "I think they're in better shape than they were at George Kyte. I think it has been a good, productive break for them."

The Lumberjack women have been out of competition since Sept. 3 when they raced at the George Kyte Classic in Flagstaff, so this trip will provide the team with some good national experience and exposure before heading into the remaining part of their cross schedule.

"This race will be very challenging," said Heins. "They're going to race against some of the best teams in the country and there's going to be a lot of depth. It will be an eye-opener for our athletes because the last race they competed in was a small one here in Flagstaff. This is a high-caliber meet that will hopefully get them prepared for the championship portion of the season."

Representing NAU on Saturday will be upperclassmen Kylie Goo, Emily Roughan and Carolyn Bethel, and underclassmen Mikayla Malaspina, Miranda Myers and Jessie Williams. Also making the trip to Minneapolis will be two-time All-Big Sky, All-Region and NCAA National qualifier Melanie Townsend. This will be Townsend's first race of the 2016 cross country season.

"We're looking for [Townsend] to give us some depth," said Heins. "It's always nice to have an NCAA National qualifier back and running on your team. With her, Goo and Malaspina, I think we have three solid athletes running together that'll help our team score for sure."    

The Lumberjacks will compete Saturday at 1:35 p.m. CT, 11:35 a.m. Flagstaff time, on the University of Minnesota's Les Bolstad Golf Course. There will be live streaming of the event, but it does require a subscription to access the action from Roy Griak. If interested, fans should click here.

As always, we will be providing live updates and a full recap from Saturday's race, so make sure to follow us on Twitter (@nautrackfieldxc) and like us on Facebook (NAUTrackFieldXC).