Cross Country Focuses on Defending

Both the men and women are looking to add another MWC trophy to their shelves. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Defending the title is the theme for both the men's (No. 6) and women's (No. 8) teams this Saturday as they prepare to add another to their list of Mountain West Conference titles in Fort Collins, Colo.

"Defending the title has been one of our goals all year long," men's head coach Ed Eyestone said.

"The tradition here is that we expect to win and we plan to win," women's head coach Patrick Shane said. "It doesn't mean we always will, but the feeling on the team right now is that this conference championship is ours if we go out and run well."

The women are looking to capture their 18th consecutive conference title and the men with be running for their eighth in nine seasons.

Shane said he feels the team has what it takes to bring back another title.

"I believe we'll be pretty formidable at the conference meet," Shane said. "We have a good strong team this year."

Shane said although they have had great success in the past, they can't take anyone in the conference for granted.

The race for the women's individual crown should be tight. Shane said that although the team has had great individual efforts all season long, the weekly conference award has gone to other top runners in the conference.

"There are at least four or five very good individuals in the conference," he said. "We have two young women, in Chelsea McKell and Heidi Magill, who I think are two of the best individuals in the conference and it wouldn't surprise me to see one of them win the conference championship."

Eyestone said he feel good about how the team has performed and hopes it will be a sign of how they will continue to perform.

"We should do very well," Eyestone said. "We're confident and the guys are fit. We know that Air Force and Colorado State always rise to the occasion and since Colorado State is hosting the event, I'm sure they'll run their best. If our guys just get out and run their races then we should come back with the conference crown again."

After winning the Pre-National Blue Race with a career and MWC season-best time last Saturday, in Terra Haute, Ind., junior Josh Rohatinsky appears to be the favorite and is looking to capture the men's individual title. He will have solid competition from TCU's Kip Kangogo for the second race in a row. Kangogo crossed the finish line nine seconds behind Rohatinsky for a second place finish at Pre-Nationals.

"I'm sure that Josh and Kip will give a really great race out front," Eyestone said.

The MWC Championship is the first of three championship races remaining on both team's schedules. The Cougars will be hosting the Mt. Regional on Nov. 12, and then they head back to Terra Haute, Ind., where Pre-Nationals were run, to finish the season at Nationals.