The Big Sky Conference announced this week that Northern Arizona University director of track and field and cross country Eric Heins was named Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the sixth consecutive year.

“I am honored to work with these young men,” said Heins, who is in his sixth year at the helm of NAU’s cross country program. “They are a very dedicated, motivated group and this award is a testament to what they have accomplished as a team.”

The award comes on the heels of the Lumberjack men setting a record of their own after they won the team title at the Big Sky Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday. The sixth straight championship win for the NAU men is the most by any men’s team in conference history and is tied with the NAU women’s squads of 1987-1992 for most by any team in the league’s 50-year history.

Heins adds the 2012 honor to his conference Coach of the Year tally that includes eight total awards for cross country and one for outdoor track and field. He also garnered the Mountain Region Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year award from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association in 2010.

Heins, a native of Zanesville, Ohio, began his coaching career as an assistant with Indiana in 2000, after which he served as a graduate assistant at NAU from 2001-03. From NAU he moved on to Southeast Missouri State for three seasons, where he coached teams to a total of six Ohio Valley Conference Championships. Heins was an assistant coach at Texas Christian University for one season before coming back to NAU in 2007 to become the head cross country coach. Heins was promoted to Director of Track and Field and Cross Country in 2010.