Cougars Heading to Pre Nationals

The Cougars who are ranked No. 14 (men) and No. 13 (women) in the nation travel to Terre Haute, Indiana for the Pre Nationals meet. The last time the women competed on this course they captured the 2002 NCAA title. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- The men and women are gearing up for Pre Nationals this weekend in Terre Haute, Indiana.

With the leaves beginning to fall and the weather getting cooler, that means championship racing is just around the corner.

"It's all about positioning yourself now," said men's coach Ed Eyestone. "It's not do or die, but you need to put yourself in a position to be successful down the stretch."

The men have had two weeks to prepare themselves for the trip back to Indiana. Their last visit to the state, they finished fifth overall and Josh Rohatinsky won his third straight overall title at the Notre Dame Invitational.

"Josh has a great chance this weekend to test his legs and see where he fits nationally," Eyestone said.

For the women, the last time they competed on this course the Cougars ran away with the 2002 NCAA title, but there's a significant difference this year, not one of the girls competing this weekend have ever stepped foot on the course.

"What were trying to achieve this Saturday is to get a familiar feel for the course," said women's coach Patrick Shane. "It's kind of a great big horse track, basically two big loops around the course for the women and a bit of a challenge there in the middle."

A total of 87 teams will compete in both the men and women's divisions on Saturday.

"We want to beat a lot of teams from other regions this weekend," said Eyestone. "Including the ones from our own region.

Among the 87 teams competing on the men's side will be No. 13 ranked Air Force and No. 21 ranked Colorado State.

"Of course we want to see how Air Force does on Saturday," said Eyestone. "They edged us out last year in the Mountain West Conference Championships and they've got a good squad this year."

For the women, Suzanna Logan will make her first appearance this year as a talented core of runners will compete for the women.

"We're not peaking this weekend, but it's good to have some of our athletes back and ready to run," Shane said.

Logan and teammate Amber Harper have been battling some injuries this year, but Coach Shane feels the two are ready to run.

"At the Great American, we didn't get the job done at the fourth and fifth spot," said Shane. "With the athletes were sending down, we should be better at that spot."

On the men's side, Chandler Goodwin is recovering from strep throat and looks ready to go on Saturday, including fellow teammate Matt Adams who's battled back from some lingering injuries.

"Those two guys are tough competitors and have looked pretty good in practice," said Eyestone. "Overall were excited to have another chance to race."

"Our objective this Saturday is to have a positive experience on the course and to get an overall feel for the trip," said Shane. "I expect us to be in the top four or five this weekend."