After leading his team to its second consecutive NCAA National Championship on Saturday, Northern Arizona director of cross country and track and field Michael Smith was honored with the Bill Dellinger Award for being this year's National Men's Coach of the Year, per the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association release Tuesday morning.
"Coach Smith is truly one of the best coaches in the world," said assistant coach Jarred Cornfield. "His attention to detail, his care for staff and his athletes is unmatched. This honor is well deserved and a product of countless hours of hard work. He won't take the credit, but I hope the NAU family understands what a special man we have leading this program."
The NAU men entered the season as the No. 1 team in the nation, a spot they held from start to finish in a season that ended with the second national title in school history.
The Lumberjacks dominated the national meet, winning with a score of 53 points by placing all five scoring athletes in the top 40 of the race. It was the largest victory by a team since Oklahoma State outpaced the field by 63 in 2012.
Matt Baxter, Tyler Day, Peter Lomong, Andy Trouard and Geordie Beamish all earned All-American honors with their performances, the most in men's cross country this season.
Smith keeps the award in Flagstaff after former coach Eric Heins was awarded it in 2016. Smith and Heins are the only NAU coaches to earn the award since its inception in 1969.
NAU became just the 17th program in the 80-year history of the D-I cross country championships to win multiple national titles.
The team returns five of its top seven runners for next season.
To go with the championship, the men were a perfect six for six in meets this year, including winning the Mountain Regional title, the Big Sky Championships and the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational.
"He totally deserves this award," Day said. "The impact that he made on this program has been outstanding and it's only his first full year. He pushed the team since the start and has been a great leader for us during this season."
SWIM AND DIVE
Junior Tatiana Kurach was the top Northern Arizona diver this past weekend and the top diver in all of conference as she received her second Western Athletic Conference Diver of the Week award of the season on Tuesday.
Kurach was honored following her performance during NAU's Lumberjack Diving Invitational, where she was one of only two divers to place in the top seven in all three events. The second annual home invite featured eight schools, including NAU, from across the Pac-12, Mountain West and WAC.
She placed fifth on 1-meter to start the three-day meet with a two-round score of 573.35, followed by a two-round score of 589.05 to finish seventh overall on 3-meter. Kurach concluded the weekend by posting a career-best platform score of 215.25 to place sixth. The second-year Lumberjack from Saint Petersburg, Russia was NAU's top finisher throughout the weekend.
The award is the third of her career.