Cross country cruises to top three team finish in lone home meet to begin the year
NAU men’s and women’s cross country teams enjoyed great weather as they ran to second and third place team finishes, respectively, at the George Kyte Invitational over the weekend at Buffalo Park.
“Training has been going good,” said Eric Heins, track and field and cross country coach. “When we look back and compare the times that we raced today versus last year, I think we will be pretty pleased with what we did.”
The George Kyte Invitational was the first and only home meet for the Lumberjacks, and it was also the first meet of their season,of which Heins was well aware. Most notably not running for the Lumberjacks were seniors Andrew Bleus and Diego Estrada, both fall 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships participants.
“I held some of our top runners out, just in terms of training purposes and preparing for the end of the year,” Heins said. “This is kind of like the NFL preseason for us. Yeah, we have a competition, but our main competition is the Big Sky, the regionals and the national championships. Everything we do is trying to get ready for those meets.”
The women ran first for the Lumberjacks, placing junior Rochelle Kanuho (6) and freshman Lauren Justus (10) in the top ten. Kanuho ran the 5000 metres in 17 minutes, 48 seconds, averaging a 5:43 mile. Justus completed her 5k 23 seconds later and with an average mile time of 5:51.
“The last two miles, I think I kept it under control,” Kanuho said. “I’m pretty happy with my finish. It’s not a big meet, so I wasn’t too worried about it.”
The men’s team brought seven members to run the 8k race, and placed four runners in the top ten. Junior Tim Freriks finished second with an average mile of 5:13 and completed the race in 25:55, just 17 seco
nds behind ASU junior Darius Terry. Sophomore Bahlbi Gebreyohanns finished fourth for the Jacks with an overall time of 26:22 and an average mile pace of 5:18. Senior Matt Coloe and freshman Caleb Hoover finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
“It’s the beginning of the cross country season,” Freriks said. “We’re just building the foundation for our season, so a low key race like this is perfect to see where we’re at.”
The Lumberjacks return to action Sept. 16 for the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson.
“I don’t think it’s really much of a secret for our team that we really want to be back on the podium,” Freriks said. “Individually, I just want to do as much as I can to help out that team goal.”