CHENEY, Wash. - Mingus graduate Tim Freriks had the breakthrough race he has been waiting for to help the Northern Arizona University men's cross country team claim its fourth consecutive Big Sky Conference Championship here Saturday.
Freriks, a sophomore, had been running in the No. 6 slot for most of the season for NAU. Saturday, he was the Lumberjacks No. 3 runner and No. 6 overall to earn First Team All Big Sky honors.
NAU's David McNeill won his third consecutive Big Sky title, covering the 8-kilometer course in 21:28. Teammate Diego Estrada was two seconds behind McNeill as NAU placed all five of its scoring runners in the top 10 to win the league title with a low score of 27 points.
Freriks covered the 8K course in 22:17.
"It certainly was my best race since I've been here," said Freriks, who two years ago had one of the fastest 3,200-meter times in the nation with an 8:58 clocking in the Arcadia (Calif.) Invitational. "I was so glad to just get out there and compete ... I don't know that I'd say I was completely surprised by my finish. I feel like the work I had put in over the summer and the workouts I put together when the season first started were definitely indicative of where I could finish at conference. In the scheme of things though, a finish at Big Sky doesn't mean a whole lot if it doesn't translate into strong finishes at NCAA Regionals and Nationals. I want to help my team qualify on through to nationals in the former and help them accomplish something special in the latter."
The NCAA Division I National Meet will take place Monday, Nov. 22, in Terre Haute, Ind.
In the women's race Saturday, NAU finished fifth in the conference. NAU freshman Sarah Raber of Mingus was the Lumberjacks' No. 7 runner in the Big Sky meet. She covered the 5-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 49 seconds.
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