The BYU men's and women's cross country teams will open the season Saturday as they host The 2000 Cross Country Triple Crown. In their first defense of last year's national title, the 6th-ranked Cougar women will run against No. 13 Washington and No. 26 Weber State. The BYU men's team, ranked No. 33 in the preseason poll, will square off against Weber State's 23rd-ranked team. Utah Valley State College and Paradise Valley Community College will compete in the junior college division. The meet will be held at the Cougar Track complex, with the University races capping off an entire day of cross country competition.
Despite losing three All-Americans from last year's championship team, the BYU women will look to build on a strong core to make another run for the top of the polls. The Cougars lost seniors Elizabeth Jackson and Kara Ormond to graduation, and junior Laura Heiner will miss the next two seasons while serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But BYU still returns two All-Americans in senior Sharolyn Shields and junior Tara Northcutt. Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year Sarah Ellett will also be back, as will senior Tara Haynes, who was the fourth BYU finisher on the 1997 national championship team.
After winning the inaugural Mountain West Conference title and making it to the NCAA Championships last year, the BYU men's team will look to improve on a solid season. Junior John Hedengren was the first Cougar finisher in every race except one last season, and he led BYU to the conference championship by winning the individual title as a sophomore. Also returning to the lineup will be senior Nathan Harrison and junior Dula Parkinson, who both ran for BYU at the District meet and the National Championships last year. To add to their roster, the Cougars will welcome the addition of several top prep runners. Freshman Josh Rohatinsky was a four-time individual state champion at Provo (UT) High, and placed in the top five at the Footlocker Nationals his junior and senior years.
The Cross Country Triple Crown will be an all-day event, starting with a 5K Open race at 8:30 am. Elementary school 1-mile races will be run for each grade level, beginning at 9:00 am. The High School races will begin at 3:30 p.m., and will feature several nationally ranked programs, including the No. 2 Mountain View boy's team and the No. 13 Mountain View girl's team.
8:30 am Open 5K
9:00 am Elementary School 1 Mile Runs
3:30 pm High School JV Boy's 5K
4:00 pm High School JV Girl's 5K
4:30 pm High School Varsity Boy's 5K
5:00 pm High School Varsity Girl's 5K
5:30 pm University/JC Men's 4 Mile
6:00 pm University/JC Women's 4 Mile