NAU, ASU open XC season with George Kyte wins

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                </div>  With the conclusion of the George Kyte Classic on Saturday, the pecking order has been set among Arizona’s colleges for the 2016 cross country season.  At the top of […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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With the conclusion of the George Kyte Classic on Saturday, the pecking order has been set among Arizona’s colleges for the 2016 cross country season.  At the top of the order: the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.

The Northern Arizona men’s team placed five runners in the top six spots to run away from the field and win its fifth straight George Kyte title.  Held at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, the field included 14 universities, community colleges, and technical schools.

Arizona State won the women’s team competition, also well ahead of the rest of the field.  All five Sun Devil runners finished in the top 10 to score 29 points, taking the title from last year’s winner, NAU, which finished in second with 45 points.

The top two placements were flipped on the men’s side, where ASU (43 pts) finished in second place behind NAU (20).

The other two perennial in-state competitors covered the next two places.  Grand Canyon University finished in third place in the men’s event and fourth place among the women’s teams.  The University of Arizona women’s team took third, paced by Addi Zerrenner‘s first-place finish, and fourth on the men’s side.

This was the 36th running of the annual event that kicks off the cross country season and gives participants a chance to see where they stack up against in-state competition.  The men traverse a 4.5-mile course, while the women’s course is set at 2.6 miles.

Eric Heins calls the GKC a “rust buster.”  “We’re just trying to remember what it feels like to put the uniform on, warm up, and compete in cross country,” says the NAU director of track & field and cross country.

The NAU men, ranked No. 3 in the country in the USTFCCCA Preseason Coaches’ poll, showed little sign of rust.  Redshirt junior Cory Glines improved last year’s time by nearly 10 seconds to finish in second place with a time of 22:39.4.  Matt Baxter followed in third ((22:51.2), Peter Lomong in fourth (23:01.1), Geordie Beamish in fifth (23:16.4), and Andy Trouard in sixth (23:16.7).

Arizona State’s C.J. Albertson kept NAU from making a complete sweep by finishing in first place overall.  The redshirt senior waited until the final 1,200 meters and then found that extra kick that enabled him to complete the race in 22:34.4, five seconds ahead of Glines.

The ASU women’s team was led by senior Chelsey Totten-Albertson’s second-place finish (15:16.8) and two freshmen placing in the top five.  Courtney Lewis finished fourth (15:56.2) and Megan Reniewicki came in fifth (15:56.8).

NAU’s Kylie Goo rounded out the top five with a 15:50.1 finish for third place.

Now that all four teams know what to expect from their in-state opponents, it will be interesting to see if the results change when they all meet again in a couple of weeks at the Dave Murray Classic in Tucson.

(Photo: NAU Athletics)