Sports

Shadle grad runs for top-rated NAU cross country team

One can only imagine how excited former Shadle Park running standout Nathan Weitz is these days.

Weitz is a sophomore at Northern Arizona University, which vaulted into the top spot in the NCAA Division I rankings Tuesday – four days before the national championship race in Terre Haute, Ind.

“We haven’t been ranked first since 1995,” Weitz said Wednesday in a phone interview. “That year we got second.”

Weitz consistently has been NAU’s fifth man this season. It’s a spot that carries probably more pressure than any other on the team.

“I’m the fifth guy and most important guy at a race,” Weitz said. “It all comes down to me. It’s a little more pressure on me, but I’m kind of used to that. Last year I was the fifth man and we took fourth at nationals.”

The ante is higher Saturday. NAU is one of three schools mentioned in contention for the national title. Oklahoma State and Colorado are the other two.

Weitz said NAU has never won a national title in any sport.

“So this could be the year to bring home the first title,” Weitz said.

After a slow start because of an injury, Weitz was able to ease into the season.

“It’s gone well,” he said. “There have been some ups and downs but I’ve been pleased overall.”

Weitz and his team flew to Terre Haute on Wednesday afternoon. That will give them two days to see the course and do final preparations.

“I feel like our team is ready to go,” Weitz said. “We’ll bring our ‘A’ game for sure, but it’s going to be tough. Oklahoma State and Colorado are very good.”

NAU earned a trophy last year, finishing fourth.

“Right now we’re just focused on the goal of getting a national title,” Weitz said. “It’s easy to over think it. When we race we just have to focus on each of our roles and fulfill the team goal. We can’t think about the guys around us.”



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