The 2007 men's team rounded out a successful year with a MWC title and a 22nd-place finish at nationals. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- An emotional season came to a close with a 22nd-place finish at nationals for the 2007 BYU men's cross country team.
Senior Chandler Goodwin capped off a successful BYU cross country career with an All-American performance at nationals. Goodwin was also awarded first-team All-Mountain West Conference and All-Mountain Region honors.
Joining Goodwin on the All-MWC First-Team were seniors Dustin Bybee and Tyrel Jensen. Senior Derek Taylor came on strong at the end of the season, earning second-team All-MWC honors. At the Mountain Region Championships, where the Cougars finished fourth behind three teams in the national top five, Goodwin, Bybee and sophomore Brandon Hebbert were part of the All-Mountain Region top 25.
"It really makes me happy to see Chandler Goodwin get his second All-American honor here at BYU, and to see how Dustin Bybee and Tyrel Jensen came on at the end of the year was great to see as well," BYU coach Ed Eyestone said.
Stephan Shay, a junior transfer from Michigan State, was poised to be a leader late in the year for the Cougars, but a series of unfortunate setbacks kept him from performing at his normal high level. Shay paced the Cougars early in the year, finishing second overall at the team's first two meets. But back problems at the MWC Championships, food poisoning at the Mountain Region Championships and the sudden death of his older brother, Ryan, at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, compromised Shay's performance as the season came to a close.
The team rallied behind Shay and his family after the passing of Ryan, sporting black wristbands with the words "believe in yourself" inscribed on them. Those were the words Ryan shared with a fellow runner at the start of the marathon.
"I thought a real highlight for us this year was how we came together at the regional meet and qualified for nationals," Eyestone said. "The team really came together at the end of the year and battled hard. To see Brandon Hebbert run so well toward the end of the year really bodes well for our leadership next year."
BYU Autumn Classic
Minnesota outpaced BYU in the Cougars' first race of the season by just four points, 26-30. In Shay's first race as a Cougar, he finished first for BYU and second overall.
Eyestone said he was pleased with how his team ran, especially considering the high level of competition his team faced.
"Minnesota is a top-10 team nationally, and to be toe-to-toe with those guys so early in the year is a great sign for our team," Eyestone said.
Shay led the race for the first mile and a half until Chris Rombough, the eventual winner, started pulling away. But battling with a Minnesota runner is something Shay is used to. Michigan State, Shay's former school, and Minnesota are Big-10 competitors.
"I think it went well for my first race at BYU," Shay said. "As a team I'm pretty pleased with how we did. BYU is a great place especially considering the training I get in the altitude."
For his solid performance, Shay took home the MWC Athlete of the Week honor.
Sophomore Hebbert, from Alpine, Utah, finished in fourth place with a time of 19:33.5 and second place for his team.
"Hebbert was our seventh man last year, and to see him move up like he did in this race is outstanding," Eyestone said.
Taylor Farnsworth, a freshman from Pocatello, Idaho, rounded out the top-three finishers for the Cougars with a time of 19:50.4.
Dave Murray Invitational
Arizona hosted the Dave Murray Invitational, but the No. 19 BYU men's cross country team battled the heat and came out on top.
The Cougars (35) beat Arizona State (42), Paradise Valley Community College (125), Central Arizona (141) and Arizona (144), despite the 100-degree weather.
"I think our main concern was we wanted to run well, but we didn't want to do any damage because of the heat," BYU coach Ed Eyestone said. "I think our guys performed exceptionally well considering the conditions."
Shay finished in first place amongst the college runners, completing the 6,000-meter race in a time of 18:09.48. Shay beat Central Arizona runner Tyson David by nine seconds.
"It was real hot down here, so we all had to combat the weather," Shay said. "But I thought it went pretty well. The leaders went out a little quicker than we anticipated but it was a good race."
There was a pack of four runners leading most of the race, including BYU's Shay and Hebbert, but Hebbert fell back in the last 1,000 meters to finish in 11th place.
"Hebbert was a real trooper today because he wasn't feeling too well," Eyestone said. "We had to quarantine him in his room all day so he wouldn't get anybody else sick."
Jacob Gustafsson, a junior from Mission Viejo, Calif., who sat out last week's BYU Autumn Classic, came in third place with a time of 18:20.12. Goodwin rounded out BYU's top-three runners finishing in 10th place at 18:29.59.
Notre Dame Invitational
In the first of three projected meets in Indiana, the No. 20 BYU men's cross country team finished in seventh place at the star-studded Notre Dame Invitational.
The meet featured six ranked teams with host No. 12 Notre Dame taking the victory. A total of 23 teams competed in the invitational.
The Cougars were led by Goodwin, who finished the five-mile course in 24:14, good for 13th place.
"Chandler Goodwin is our team captain and as expected, he ran well," Eyestone said. "We had some really good performances, and we had some guys who didn't have their best day."
Eyestone was especially impressed with freshman Curtis Carr's race. Carr, a 6-foot-5 native of Nashville, Ind., placed fifth on the team and 52nd overall.
"True freshman Curtis Carr ran especially well considering it was his first five-mile race at a meet with such a high level of competition," Eyestone said.
BYU's other top runners were Shay (17th overall), Bybee (43rd) and Hebbert (46th).
Pre-Nationals is a good mid-season barometer of where a team stands, and the BYU men's cross country team showed well finishing in 11th place.
The men ran in the 8K blue race against 38 other teams, as Shay paced the Cougars with a time of 23:52. Shay finished in 26th place overall.
"It was probably our best overall run this year," Ed Eyestone said. "I was particularly impressed with our third through six runners. We've just got to close the gap a little bit between our second and third runner."
Trailing just five seconds behind Shay for the Cougars was 2005 All-American Goodwin. There was then a 19-second gap with the next four Cougar runners finishing just six seconds apart.
"Stephan and I ran by each other the whole race," Goodwin said. "This course that we ran on today was in great shape. It was cool and overcast -- perfect racing conditions."
Rounding out the top five for the Cougars were Hebbert (24:16), junior Dan Hinckley (24:18) and Gustafsson (24:22).
Mountain West Conference Championships
For the fourth time in as many years, BYU's men's cross country team won the Mountain West Conference title, outdistancing host New Mexico by five points on Saturday.
Eyestone was named MWC Coach of the Year as his team was led by seniors Bybee, Goodwin and Jensen. Bybee finished third in the 8K race with a time of 24:55, Goodwin was fifth in 25:00 and Jensen placed seventh in 25:03.
BYU's men totaled 46 points for first, followed by UNM at 51, Air Force 52, CSU 105, Wyoming 118 and TCU 167 at the University of New Mexico North Golf Course.
UNM's Jeremy Johnson led the entire race, fending off Wyoming's Mark Korir and TCU's Festus Kign through the first half of the race. Johnson clocked a 24:23, while Korir placed second in 24:48.
"It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win," said Eyestone. "Tyrel Jensen is our consummate sixth or seventh man and to see him finish third for us is great. We can't afford to run poorly from here on out."
Bybee, Goodwin and Jensen made the MWC First Team, while Taylor made the second team.
Shay was pulled from the race around the 5K mark and did not finish the men's race.
"He has had a bad back the past month," said Eyestone of Shay, who had been one of the top Cougar runners all season. "You don't know how it's going to be until about a mile in and I could tell it was hurting him, to I pulled him."
"Our team stepped up when we needed to," Bybee said. "Brandon (Hebbert), Chandler (Goodwin) and I worked well together today. It was kind of fun to have Chandler at my side to help each other out."
The race had been scheduled to be at San Diego, but just a week before the race wildfires in the San Diego area forced the conference to move the meet to Albuquerque.
Mountain Regional Championships
The men's cross country team qualified for nationals with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Regional Championships.
An 11th-place finish by Goodwin helped punch the Cougars' tickets to nationals.
But it was more than just another race at regionals. Shay, the Cougars' top runner, suffered a number of setbacks before the race, inspiring all of the BYU runners. The weekend before regionals, Shay's older brother collapsed and passed away at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. In memory of Shay's brother, the team wore black wristbands. Then the night before regionals, Shay came down with food poisoning, keeping him on the sidelines for the race.
"There were times in this race when I looked down at the band and that inspired me," Goodwin said. "This week has really been an emotional one, and I think we ran inspired today."
Eyestone was impressed with how his team rallied around a teammate.
"I think we did what we needed to do to qualify for nationals and give Stephan a chance to run again this year," Eyestone said.
Colorado (47), UTEP (56) and Northern Arizona (84), all ranked in the top five nationally, took the top three spots with BYU (113) not far behind.
Goodwin led a pack of runners behind a few of the leaders for most of the race with Hebbert bringing up the back of the small pack. After the 1K mark Goodwin was in 11th place, a spot he would keep all the way to the finish line. The team rallied behind Goodwin and Hebbert's consistent running, notching a trip to nationals.
"One through seven this probably isn't the most talented team, but they've fought as hard as any team I've coached," Eyestone said.
NCAA National Championships
Goodwin's All-American finish led BYU to a 22nd-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Goodwin finished 46th individually in leading the Cougar men. The senior from Pleasant Grove was awaiting official word of the displacement rule which subtracts foreign runners from the All-American selection.
By the time word reached Goodwin, the blood had dried on right knee after a collision at the six-mile mark in the 10 K race.
"I saw a guy push another runner into the fence and he bounced back, so I put my hand out, but his spike came up and got me in the knee," said Goodwin. It was the second time during the race Goodwin had to dodge the pack.
"He had to demonstrate his steeplechase skill and hurdle a couple of people, that's why he's an All-American in that event," Eyestone said. Goodwin had a goal of finishing in the top 50 to have a chance of being All-American, but helped his team in the process.
"We took exception to being ranked 27, so to move up five is great," said Eyestone. "We ran an inspired race and we believe Chandler may have been an All-American. This is a solid end to a strong season."
Behind Goodwin's 35 in team scoring for BYU's men was Hebbert at 92 , Bybee at 98, Gustafsson at 120 and Taylor at 104. Taylor, a senior, will finish this year as a second lieutenant in the Army after being cut three times from the Cougar roster.