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XC COUNTDOWN: #3 NAU Men

XC COUNTDOWN: #3 NAU Men


Head Coach:

Eric Heins (8th Year)
 
Last Year:
1st Big Sky
1st Mountain Regional
2nd NCAA 
 
Probable Top Five:
JR Futsum Zienasellassie (3:45 1500m; 13:50 5k; 4th NCAA XC '13)
SR Matt McElroy (8:11 3k; 13:55 5k; 28:51 10k; 25th NCAA XC '13)
SR Tyler Byrne (8:16 3k; 14:12 5k; 29:30 10k; 29th NCAA XC '13)
JR Nathan Weitz (3:44 1500m; 76th NCAA XC '13)
SR Caleb Hoover (8:17 3k; 14:05 5k; 8:43 3k Steeple; 139th NCAA XC '13) 
 
Impact Freshman/Recruits:
Tyler Byrne - (8:16 3k; 14:12 5k; 29:30 10k; 29th NCAA XC '13)*
Cory Glines - (14:18 5k; 197th NCAA XC '13)+
Harvey Nelson - Catalina Foothills, AZ (9:28 3200m; AZ State XC Champ '13)

*Transfer from Louisville
+Transfer from Michigan 
 
Analysis:
Coach Eric Heins has had the privilege of coaching Lopez Lomong, David McNeil and Diego Estrada in recent years. All cross country stars and all Olympians for their respective countries.

There may not be an Olympian on this year's NAU roster, but it is loaded none the less. The Eritrean born Futsum Zienasellassie is only a junior although he has been at the top of the heap of cross country since his sophomore year in high school. He is a former Nike Nationals Champion and last year brought home the 4th place stick for his NAU team at the NCAA championships. Look for him to be right about that same place this year.

Complimenting Futsum very well is Matt McElroy, who started his collegiate career at Oklahoma State and transferred after his freshman season. He is a senior now, and even though his 25th place last year at the big race was outstanding, don't be surprised if he places even higher this fall. He ran 28:51 for 10k last spring, but he is better than that. He will push Futsum in workouts and make them both better. After all, McElroy did win the Big Sky Conference meet last year and beat Zienasellassie in the process.
 
Tyler Byrne must have made Eric Heins's summer when he announced he was transferring from Louisville. This is no ordinary transfer. Last season he was 29th in the NCAA meet, and while his track times are not that glossy, his toughness over the cross country course is not to be discounted. Bryne should be their  number three and that is scary for everyone else. Another thing to consider, an important member of the NAU squad not returning from last year's team is Brian Shrader, who placed 28th at NCAA's last year. Finishing right behind him at 29th was Mr. Byrne, so he will be a huge factor this year.

Nathan Weitz is no slouch for a 4th stick. His high school career record included a 3rd place at the Foot Locker Nationals and a Washington State Cross Country title as a junior for his team in Spokane. He was 75th last November and this certainly bodes well for his 2014 season. He has run 3:44 for 1500m, so his speed is more than adequate.
 
Senior Caleb Hoover had a very nice track season last spring when he got a monster PR in the steeple with an 8:43. He will duke it out with Michigan transfer, Cory Glines ,who ran in the big meet last year and was 197th for the Wolverines. These two will most likely be their 5th and 6th  finishers.

NAU is loaded and will be ready to roll when they descend from their 7000 feet home. There will be no lumbering in the Lumberjacks this fall.

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