With the Lumberjacks being NCAA champions for the last three years, they were the clear favorites coming into Terre Haute, Indiana. However, Brigham Young University (BYU), the University of Colorado and Stanford University were all going to be tough competition for NAU to hold off.
Throughout the race, it was BYU and NAU at the top two by a wide margin. Colorado made their presence known in the final leg of the race as they had two runners inside the top 10. The ex-factor that determined the team championship was sophomore Conner Mantz who carried BYU's points for the duration of the race. He ran inside the top five all race long and wound up claiming a third-place finish.
It was a valiant effort for NAU but they could not close the gap on Mantz to defend its crown. Freshmen Drew Bosley and Abdihamid Nur were the highest finishers for the Lumberjacks with a 22nd and 33rd place finish, respectively. Senior Geordie Beamish closed out his collegiate career with a 37th place finish. Freshman Brodey Hasty finished 46th and junior Luis Grijalva closed out the scoring with a 52nd-place finish.
For the NAU women's team, they had nothing to lose as this was only their first appearance in the NCAA Championships since 2008 and they were not favorites coming in. However, the Lumberjacks shined with an impressive team run. Throughout the race, NAU improved its team position. The team jumped all the way up from 18th early on to finish 14th. Senior Mikayla Malaspina led the way for NAU with a 42nd-place finish. She was followed by senior Miranda Myers, sophomore Taryn O'Neill, junior Pipi Eitel, and sophomore Bryn Morley.
While the men losing for the first time in four years will sting Flagstaff until next fall, there will still be plenty to look forward to in the future as four of the top five NAU scorers will return and the NAU women are continuing to build a team that will look to compete for NCAA titles for years to come.