Men’s cross country dominates SoCal meet
By Mark Saunders
The Northern Arizona University (NAU) men’s cross country team impressively won five out of 10 spots and the team win at the PAC-12 Preview Elite Invitational on Sept. 21 at Robinson Ranch Golf Course in Santa Clarita, Calif.
The team took first in the men’s 8,000 meter with 23 points, followed by University of California-Los Angeles with 58 points and ASU with 66 points. The meet, which featured runners representing six other universities, resulted in the top two spots taken by NAU junior Brian Shrader and freshman Futsum Zienasellassie,both finishing with a time of 24:30. Shrader was awarded first by a slight lead.
Redshirt sophomore Matt McElroy finished fourth with a time of 24:38, with sophomore Caleb Hoover and redshirt freshman Alejandro Montano rounding out the top 10 at seventh and ninth with times of 24:55 and 24:57 respectively.
Director of track and field and cross country Eric Heins said he was initially worried about how the change in running conditions would affect the team, though this proved to matter little.
“I was really pleased. We ran a great race three weeks ago at George Kyte, but that was on our home course at that altitude,” Heins said. “This week I was actually concerned because it was hot and I didn’t know how we’d respond to that and then also having a couple of PAC-12 teams there.”
Shrader won his first individual meet title this season two weeks before on Sept. 1 at the George Kyte Classic at Buffalo Park. That particular meet also resulted with Shrader, McElroy, Hoover and Montano placing in the top 10. The season started with high expectations and the team has been doing everything it needs to fulfill those expectations, according to Heins.
“I can’t say enough about how well [the team] ran because we were getting beat half way through the race, and our guys were obviously running a smart race and had a lot left in the tank over the last 3,000 meters,” Heins said. “We were able to pull away pretty handily. I was real pleased at how we packed up together and ran it as a team race.”
Other runners for NAU included freshman Nathan Weitz, sophomore Cody Reed, senior Roman Acosta, freshman Brandon Hansen, and sophomore Chris Ganem who placed 11th, 27th, 30th, 53rd and 56th, respectively.
The men’s cross country team will next travel to Phoenix on Oct. 6 for the Grand Canyon Invitational.