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NAU Roundup: Cross country teams sweep titles at Big Sky meet

NAU Roundup: Cross country teams sweep titles at Big Sky meet

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The Northern Arizona men's team provided a 1-2-3 punch, Mikayla Malaspina was the individual runner-up on the women's side and the Lumberjacks cross country crews completed the sweep of the Big Sky championship races on Saturday in a cold Greeley, Colorado.

Lumberjacks freshman Drew Bosley won the men's 8K race in 26:50.8, leading the way to the team's 29th conference title. Fellow freshman Brodey Hasty bookended the stellar trio with a time of 26:56.2, with senior Geordie Beamish sandwiched between as the race's second-place finisher in 26:55.7.

The men's team, ranked No. 1 in the nation, walked away from the snow-covered Boomerang Golf Course with the low score of 24 points and its fourth consecutive conference title. The women's crew registered the low score of 36 points in the 30-degree weather, helping the program complete the Big Sky sweep for the 17th time.

Weber State finished second as a team on the men's side with 40 points and Montana State was third at 74 points. A pair of Weber State runners separated the Lumberjacks leading pack from the next finisher wearing Blue and Gold, as Lumberjacks sophomore Ryan Raff clocked a 27:06.2 for sixth place.

Northern Arizona's Jack Shea and Theo Quax finished 12th and 18th, respectively. With Mitchell Small taking 25th, the Lumberjacks didn't have a finisher outside the top 25.

The Northern Arizona women's squad, No. 11 in the country, also had four runners finish in the top 10, led by Malaspina's 18:15.3 in the 5K. The Lumberjacks won their 21st conference title with the performance that saw second-place Idaho come in at a distant 90 points.

Besides the NAU women's crew, the rest of race was a tight one. Southern Utah finished third with 93 points and Weber fourth at 94 points. Montana State freshman Camila Noe won the individual women's title with a time of 17:41.3.

All the teams were battling the conditions, an aspect the Lumberjacks' director of cross country and track and field thinks is an intriguing aspect of the sport.

"The true nature of cross country is this kind of racing in brutal conditions," Michael Smith said. "This is what the purity of the sport is. We take times and throw them out the window, and teach our runners to compete with each other and against themselves."

Pipi Eitel finished fifth in 18:21.3 for the Lumberjacks, with teammate Taryn O'Neill right behind her for sixth in 18:21.9. Lumberjacks senior Miranda Myers crossed the line in ninth place in 18:36.4.

"We look at racing as being a combination of physical and mental capabilities that have to expand together through training," Smith said. "In the past we have had women's teams that were physically able to compete at this level; however, at times there was a lack of belief. As much of the work that we put into the physical preparation, we have to show them it's possible to race like this."

The NCAA Mountain Regionals are next up for the Lumberjacks and are set to take place Friday, Nov. 15, in Salt Lake City.


Two big Weber State runs in the first two sets put the Northern Arizona volleyball team in a hole too great to get out of on the road as the Lumberjacks saw their four-match losing streak come to an end Thursday with a 25-20, 25-17, 25-23 loss that moved them to 14-10 overall and 7-5 in Big Sky Conference play.

The Wildcats scored nine straight in the first set and six straight in the second set to flip the scoreboard in their favor. In the third set, the Lumberjacks led by as much as five before the Wildcats erased the deficit to complete the sweep.

"We were very tight and there were a lot of areas that we could've been better," Lumberjacks head coach Ken Murphy said. "We gave ourselves a shot with our defense. With all of the things that were chaotic on our side, we managed to keep them off-balance on their side. The first two sets got away from us, but I'm proud of how we regrouped to give ourselves a shot going into the third."

While Northern Arizona contained Weber State to .208 hitting, the Lumberjacks posted their second-lowest hitting percentage of the season at .093. Although both teams committed 18 attack errors each, Weber State tallied 44 kills to NAU's 29 -- also marking the Lumberjacks' second-fewest this season.

The Lumberjacks, led by five from senior Abby Akin and three from redshirt freshman Morgan Gappmayer, outblocked the Wildcats by a 9-8 margin.

Sydney Lema recorded a pair of aces to open the match as the Lumberjacks scored the first two points and led 4-2. Weber State seized control with a 9-0 run.

The Lumberjacks once again opened the second set with the first two points --  this time on a pair of solo blocks by freshman Taylor Jacobsen -- but the Wildcats evened the score at 5-5. The set was tied at 11-11 until Weber State moved ahead with a 6-0 run and the Jacks never got closer than five the rest of the game.

Akin matched teammate Olivia Turner's eight kills and hit .368. Freshman Lillian Thomas led the Lumberjacks with 17 digs while Lema added 10 as she surpassed 1,400 digs in her career.

Northern Arizona will host Sacramento State on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. before taking on Portland State on Saturday, also at 6:30 p.m.

NAU Sports Information contributed to this roundup.


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