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NAU Roundup: Lumberjacks to send three athletes to NCAA championships
NAU ROUNDUP

NAU Roundup: Lumberjacks to send three athletes to NCAA championships

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Three Lumberjacks are set to compete at the NCAA Division I outdoor track and field championship meet that takes place Wednesday through Saturday in Eugene, Oregon, at Hayward Field.

Freshman Abdihamid Nur will compete in the men's 10,000-meter run on Wednesday for Northern Arizona, while junior Jessa Hanson will run in the women's 10,000m Thursday. NAU senior Luis Grijalva will line up for the men's 5000m run Friday.

After the cancellation of the 2020 indoor national championship and the 2020 outdoor season, these athletes have been waiting to compete on the national stage for over a year.

All three Lumberjacks had a strong showing at the cross country national championship meet in the fall and entered the outdoor track season with similar momentum.

In late April, Nur ran his first collegiate 10,000m race at the Fresno State West Coast Relays, clocking a time of 27:47.27. At the time it was the not only the best in the Big Sky, the west region, and the NCAA this season, but ranked sixth-best in conference history, sixth-fastest all-time in the nation and qualified him for the United States Olympic Trials.

Nur's personal best time now ranks second in the nation, but his most recent time of 29:14.43, run at the West Regional meet two weeks ago, places him in 23rd on the meet entry list.

BYU junior Conner Mantz (27:41.16) holds the top time in that event this season.

The last time Northern Arizona sent a woman to nationals in the 10,000m was in 2013 when Rochelle Kanuho ran a time of 34:46.04 to finish 15th overall.

Like Nur, Hanson ran her first collegiate 10K run this season, finishing her first race in 34:09.38 at the Virginia Challenge in April. At the regional meet two weeks ago, however, Hanson dug deep to deliver a lifetime best finish of 33:56.97, grabbing the women's final qualifying slot.

There will be 11 other women from the NCAA top-24 list running in the event, including Alabama sophomore Mercy Chelangat (32:13.13), freshman Grace Forbes (32:24.38) of Rice, and senior Carmela Cardama Baez (32:38.73) of Oregon -- who respectively hold the three best times this season.

On Friday evening, Grijalva, the Big Sky Conference Men's Most Valuable Athlete, will compete in the men's 5000m run. Grijalva's season best time of 13:29.02, run in late April, ranks 14th in the nation, while his most recent time of 13:57.00 from the regional meet seats him 20th approaching the national competition.

Grijalva will face 10 of the top 24 nationally ranked athletes in this event, including the true top-two place holders freshman Cole Hocker (3:19.98) and junior Cooper Teare (13:20.24) of Oregon.

Returning to the meet after a 15th place finish in 2019, and a canceled outdoor season in 2020, Grijalva is fully prepared to leave it all out on the track.

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