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NAU

The Northern Arizona cross country program will be opening its 2019 season in Flagstaff on Saturday at the 39th annual George Kyte Classic at Buffalo Park.

It's the lone home meet of the season for the Lumberjacks, who will see the men take on the 4.5-mile course starting at 1:30 p.m. and the women race the 2.6-mile course at about 2:30 p.m.

The men's team is looking for its eighth straight team win at George Kyte, and the women's side will be looking to win the event for a third straight season.

A few Arizona-based non-NCAA Division I schools will be competing against the Lumberjacks, including Arizona Christian and Pima. A Japanese team from Tokai University in Tokyo will also be racing.

The Northern Arizona men enter 2019 as the top-ranked team in the country on the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Coaches' Poll. The women were selected as the sixth-best team in the Mountain Region.

Both teams were selected as the preseason favorite by the Big Sky Conference.

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The men's squad is coming off of its third straight national championship season. The squad will be without standouts Tyler Day and Matthew Baxter after both played large roles in helping secure the three-peat.

While Day still has eligibility for the indoor and outdoor track seasons in 2020, 2018 was the Arizona native's last year of competing in cross country with Northern Arizona.

Baxter now runs for NAZ Elite, a professional running team based out of Flagstaff.

In 2019, Lumberjacks fans can expect to see runners Brodey Hasty, Mitchell Small and Theo Quax try to keep the run of titles intact. Moreover, the men's side returns four of its seven runners from the last title-winning squad in All-Americans Luis Grijalva, Blaise Ferro and Geordie Beamish.

The Jacks will see the return of both Miranda Myers and Mikayla Malaspina on the women's end of things this fall after redshirting in 2018. Villanova transfer Taryn O'Neill is also expected to make a huge impact on the team's roster. The depth of the 2019 crew also features a stacked junior class.

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