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Northern Arizona coach credits squad “depth” for cross country championship success

The Northern Arizona men won the 2021 NCAA DI Cross Country Championships because of the “depth” in the squad, says coach Michael Smith.

Northern-Arizona-NCAA-Cross-Country-Championship
Northern Arizona NCAA Cross Country Championship

MIAMI, FL — Northern Arizona men’s cross country team coach Michael Smith credited the “depth” in quality of his team as the main reason for the Lumberjacks retaining their NCAA DI Cross Country Championship title on Saturday.

NAU tallied 92 points for the win at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida to defend their crown and also achieved their fifth NCAA National Championship team title in the last six years.

READ MORE: NC State, Northern Arizona win 2021 NCAA DI cross country championships: Results and team scores

Northern Arizona Squad Full Of Quality

Led by top 15 finishers, Abdihamid Nur (7th), Nico Young (11th) and Drew Bosley (13th), Northern Arizona placed all five scoring runners in All-American spots and Smith revealed that the performance showed the type of quality he currently has at his disposal.

Two-time All-American redshirt sophomore Nur ran a time of 28:52.9 in a very quick race, while fellow two-time All-American freshman Young clocked 28:57.5 and Bosley finishing in 29:13.8.

The final two scorers were senior George Kushe (29:29.5) and redshirt junior Brodey Hasty (29.30.3) in 37th and 39th, respectively.

“For a team title in the ballpark of 100 points, it was going to require athletes competing up in the front of the race,” Smith, the Director of NAU Cross Country and Track & Field said on the NAU website. “Our depth was massive for us today.”

Good Community and School Support

Smith also praised the support of the community around him.

“We are supported by the entire university, we train in [the] best place on earth, we’ve got the community and our campus behind us,” he continued. “We recruit focused athletes, and we have a tremendous coaching and support staff.

“There’s no secret, those are the pieces, and the results speak for themselves.”

The members of the winning squad this year have all been winners in the Lumberjacks uniform before and Smith believes that perhaps gave his team a unique advantage.

“There’s no race that rewards experience more than the NCAA Cross Country Championships, ” Smith explained, “their experience was one of the greatest factors that influenced the team title win today.”

Northern Arizona became the first team in NCAA history to win two national championships in the same year, this after last season’s cross country championships was contested in March due to the season being postponed by COVID-19 pandemic.

Written By

Gary Smith is one of the leading writers for World-Track.org. He has over 10 years of running experience, as well as eight-years of coaching while covering several events, from the international to college level. Smith, who has covered events for publications such as Caribbean Net News, Cayman Net News, AFP and Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), is also a frequent contributor of SportingAlert.com and TrackAlerts.com.

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