The Northern Arizona track and field teams will be competing at elite events in New Mexico's Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Iowa State Classic in Ames, Iowa, this Friday and Saturday. The distance runners will be competing in Iowa at the Lied Recreation Center, while the throwing and sprint programs will head to New Mexico and the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Both events will put the Lumberjacks against some of the top teams in the nation.
"You'll hear me talk about our process a lot," said Lumberjacks director of track and field Michael Smith. "Our process is our mindset, it's how we prepare on day of competition, the night before, how we warm up and how we handle the nerves."
The distance runners will be looking to acquire some NCAA indoor qualifying times prior to the beginning of the postseason.
"In the distance events, being at 7,000 feet, we try at least once in the season to get our athletes down to oxygen and sea level," Smith said. "We'll take a contingent of distance runners that need to access those next paces and marks. We got some exciting things happening on that side."
Included in that group will be Matt Baxter, Andy Trouard, Cory Glines, Blaise Ferro, Cade Burks, Jack Shea, Ryan Wolff and Ryan Lanley. Standout Tyler Day will also be competing as an unattached athlete.
On the women's side, Paige Gilchrist and Ashley Taylor highlight a strong group that will consist of Hannah Behunin, Pipi Eitel, Kylie Goo and Delaney Rasmussen. Georgetown transfer Emma Keenan will also be making her Northern Arizona debut in the women's 800m.
The sprinters and throwers will be the focus in New Mexico, with the Lumberjacks sending their entire squad from these two sections. Thirteen field athletes and more than 20 track athletes will compete this weekend.
Notables include Brooke Andersen, Mikayla Malaspina, Jasmine Malone, Jada Jackson and Helena McLeod on the women's side, and Cameron Rayford, Khalil Dorsey, Kossi Tchenawou, Isaiah Kennedy and James Fisher on the men's.
After this weekend, Northern Arizona will have one regular-season event remaining (the NAU Tune-Up on Feb. 16) before hosting the Big Sky Championships at the Walkup Skydome Feb. 22-24.
The NCAA Indoor Championships are slated for March 9-10 at Texas A&M in College Station.
The Big Sky Conference announced Northern Arizona freshman Madi Moore as the women's tennis athlete of the week after she went undefeated in singles and doubles play against New Mexico State, Abilene Christian and UTEP.
Moore, a newcomer from Scottsdale, joined the Lumberjacks in the fall season and was the lone player on the team this weekend to win all her matches.
"Madi was a true trooper this past weekend," said Lumberjacks head coach Maciej Bogusz. "She competed hard and won six matches with a cold, and didn't complain once about it."
On Friday, Northern Arizona faced New Mexico State to start its three-match weekend. Moore paired with sophomore Chiara Tomasetti for a 6-4 win before defeating NMSU's Eli Arnaudova 6-4, 6-3 to help the Lumberjacks record their first victory of the season.
Against Abilene Christian, Moore clinched the doubles point with Tomasettim, 6-2, and went on to best Jordan Henry 6-1, 6-2, and the Lumberjacks won their second match of the weekend.
On Sunday, Moore continued to own the courts, getting the doubles point with Tomasetti 6-2 and then defeating UTEP's Alisa Morozova, 6-2, 6-3.
Moore and the Lumberjacks have a week off before hosting their home opener against New Mexico on Saturday, Feb. 17. The match is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Aquatic and Tennis Complex.
Meanwhile, Tomasetti and Hanneke Lodewijks moved up eight spots to No. 45 in the Oracle ITA Division I women's doubles rankings, released Wednesday, as the only duo from the Big Sky Conference.
Prior to the start of the spring season, Tomasetti and Lodewijks were ranked No. 53 after reaching an 8-3 record in the All-American Championships, ITA Mountain Regionals and a host of other tournaments.