The men's cross country team, the defending national champions and current No. 1 team in the nation, is set to compete against a strong field Friday at the University of Wisconsin's prestigious Nuttycombe Invitational at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course.
"This has always been a special meet in men's cross country," said Michael Smith, director of cross country and track and field. "This is a good indication of where all the teams in the country are this weekend. This meet most replicates the national meet; the pace, the depth of the field, and the quality of the competition."
The meet consists of 20 of the top 30 teams in the country and five of the top 10, including No. 3 Syracuse and No. 4 Stanford. Northern Arizona will also be taking on squads from No. 6 Southern Utah, No. 10 Furman and No. 11 Colorado State. A total of 35 men's teams will be competing at the event.
The Lumberjacks jumped in the national conversation last season with a victory at Nuttycombe and used that momentum to propel them to NAU's first NCAA National Championship.
"Last year when we won the NCAAs, it was this meet that really cemented what was about to happen," Smith said. "It really showed that this team would be tough to beat."
The men are two-for-two so far in races this season, after picking up an astounding 15-point victory to open the year at the George Kyte Classic on Sept. 2, followed by a 19-point win at the Greater Louisville Classic on Sept 30.
The Lumberjacks have been the No. 1 team in the country for five consecutive weeks to open the season. Dating back to last year, NAU has sat atop the national standings for a school-record 11 straight weeks.
The Lumberjacks will be sending out Matt Baxter, Geordie Beamish, Tyler Day, Luis Grijalva, Peter Lomong, Andy Trouard and Ryan Wolff to compete in the championship 8K race. Preceding the main event, Cade Burks, Cory Glines, and Harvey Nelson will be running in the Men's "B" 8K race.
The women's soccer team will host Weber State and Idaho State Friday and Sunday respectively. The Lumberjacks are currently sitting in the middle of the Big Sky pack in standings at 3-3 and 8-7 overall after falling to Portland State and Montana last weekend.
Weber State is 1-3-1 in conference with four points and Idaho State is 2-3 with six points. Across the conference, this weekend can make or break seasons as they fight for their spot in the top six before the final two games.
Northern Arizona will first host the Weber State Wildcats Friday at 7 p.m. for the team's pink game before taking on the Idaho State Bengals Sunday at noon. Both games will be televised on Suddenlink Channel 4 and live streamed on Pluto TV Channel 239. Sunday's action will also be televised on Phoenix's CW6.
The Wildcats are coming off of a 2-1 overtime loss to Southern Utah and are currently sitting in the bottom half of the standings with one win over Portland State. Idaho State is currently 3-10-0 overall and sitting right behind the Lumberjacks and Southern Utah in the conference standings at 2-3. The Bengals are coming off of a 2-1 loss to Southern Utah and need to win this weekend for a spot in the Big Sky Conference tournament.