For the second consecutive indoor season, Northern Arizona's Michael Smith was named the 2018 Men's and Women's Big Sky Indoor Coach of the Year Friday, per the conference's release.
The awards were all a formality after Smith, the director of track and field and cross country, watched his teams sweep the Big Sky Indoor Championships for a second year in a row in one of the most successful indoor seasons in program history.
Under Smith's direction -- this is his second year at the helm -- NAU broke or tied five conference records along with setting seven new program marks. His athletes also collected 11 individual Big Sky titles.
"In the short time Coach Smith has been director of track and field, it's obvious how much of a positive impact he has had through the whole spectrum of our team," said senior Paige Gilchrist. "His dedication and excitement for each athlete is unmatched, and we feel so grateful for the work we get to do for NAU track and field with him at the helm."
"I don't think anyone deserves it more than him," said senior Kossi Tchenawou. "When we had Coach Eric Heins, he did incredible things here and everyone doubted Smith when he was first hired, but he's doing even greater things now, not just with the men's distance program but the whole track team."
"Every coach has something different to offer to a program," Tchenawou added. "What Smith has to offer is something most coaches can't as shown by the championships. There was a lot of pressure on him and he proved everyone wrong. Who's more deserving than the coach who just swept the men's and women's conference team championships?"
Moreover, the Lumberjacks will be sending a school-record six athletes to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championships March 9-10 in College Station, Texas.
Smith already earned the Bill Dellinger Award for being this year's National Men's Coach of the Year and picked up both the conference's men's and women's coach of the year honors following the cross country season.
Smith is assisted by Kenny McDaniel, Nathan Ott, Becca DeLoache, Roderick Townsend, Jarred Cornfield and Vernon Jamison Jr.
The women's tennis team dominated once again, winning its seventh straight victory, 6-1, over the Sacramento State Hornets Friday.
The Lumberjacks notched their fourth home win as well and second in conference after shutting out the Hornets in doubles and nearly sweeping singles.
"Seven matches ago we were a much weaker team than we are right now," said Lumberjacks head coach Maciej Bogusz. "We are now not only winning matches, but we are getting better on a weekly basis."
The freshmen alone have notched 12 singles wins -- four in conference -- since starting the season and have helped the team to many of their victories, including Friday's.
In doubles, the Lumberjacks shut out the Hornets, 6-0, 6-0 and 6-2 before clinching in singles at 4-0 with a final score of 6-1.
Juniors Hanneke Lodewijks and Eirene Granville, sophomore Chiara Tomasetti and freshman Madi Moore picked up wins Friday afternoon, remaining undefeated in Big Sky action at 2-0. Freshman Cora-Lynn von Dungern also got a win, notching her first of the season and finishing off the match for the Jacks after coming back from a tiebreak.
"The freshmen make up more than half of the team right now and without them we wouldn't have the record we do, but we are just in the middle of season and have more work to do," Bogusz said. "I'm happy for Cora-Lynn today because she was so close in the last few matches, falling in the third sets. It was a great win for her."
Northern Arizona will begin a five-match road stretch, taking on another Big Sky opponent in Portland State next Friday for a 10 a.m. match.
The men's tennis team will continue its 12-match road stretch in California against Loyola Marymount and UC Riverside Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The Lumberjacks, currently 2-5 overall and 1-0 in conference, will first compete against LMU Saturday at 10 a.m. before taking on UCR the following day at 2 p.m.
Northern Arizona is coming off a win over Portland State that started the Big Sky schedule. Following this weekend, the Lumberjacks will compete in three more road matches before their home opener against North Dakota.
Loyola Marymount is currently 6-2 overall, coming off of three straight wins against Fresno State, Cal Poly and Nevada. The Lions will host the Lumberjacks in their lone match of the weekend Saturday. The last time these two teams faced each other was in 2016 in Flagstaff, where the Lions picked up a 5-2 win over the Jacks.
The Highlanders are currently 4-8 overall and have yet to compete in conference. UC Riverside is coming off of a 5-2 win over Colorado State – Pueblo and will host a doubleheader Sunday against two Big Sky opponents in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. The last time the Highlanders faced the Lumberjacks was in Flagstaff, where the Jacks won 4-0 last season.
The women's golf squad heads to Tucson to compete against a stacked field at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational Monday and Tuesday at the Sewailo Golf Club.
The 17-team lineup will include some top-ranked teams in the country such as No. 1 UCLA, No. 7 Texas and No. 22 Arizona.
Participants will play 36 holes on Monday and 18 holes on Tuesday, with both days starting with shotgun starts at 8 a.m. Sewailo Golf Club is a par-72 course that plays at 6,341 yards.
The Lumberjacks are fresh off an eighth-place finish at the The Rebel Beach Invitational and currently are ranked as the No. 36 team in the region.