Cross Country Ready for the NCAA Championships

Junior Josh Rohatinsky looks to lead the Cougars at the NCAA Championships as one of the nation's top runners.

PROVO -- Both the men and women's cross country teams are ranked No. 8, and are looking to turn some heads at Mondays NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.

The women are coming off a second-place finish in the NCAA Mt. Region Championships last Saturday, which gave them an automatic bid to the national championships.

Women's head coach Patrick Shane said the team has done well, and now it's just a matter of waiting and running their best.

"Our works outs have gone very well," Shane said. "At this point the hay is in the barn and it's a matter of recovering from the previous race and sharpening just a little bit."

Shane also said even though they will be running against the best teams and the best individuals, he feels the Cougars have an opportunity to show how good they really are.

"We are ranked eighth in the nation right now," he said. "I think we are better than that, and if we run well, we'll have a chance to prove it. There is darn little pressure coming in ranked eighth because if we run our best we can achieve it."

Sophomore Heidi Magill (Orem) and senior Chelsea Smith McKell (Spokane, Wash.), who have led the women's team all season, will once again be looked to as the frontrunners for the Cougars. Shane said they (Magill and McKell), along with junior Brianne Sandberg (Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif.), all have a shot at running an All-America race (top thirty finishers).

Monday's race will be McKell's first NCAA Division I National Championship race. She transferred to BYU from BYU-Hawaii were she was a two-time Division I-AA National Cross Country Champion in 2003 and 2004.

On the men's side, they are heading to the national championships by way of an at-large bid. After the men placed first in the Roy Griak Invitational and second in the Pre-National Blue Race, the same course where nationals are being run, they put themselves in a nice spot for the at-large bid.

Men's head coach Ed Eyestone said the team will be ready to go and should make a good showing.

"We're looking good," Eyestone said. "We're cool, calm, collected and ready to roll. We've done it enough times that the guys are familiar with the experience."

Eyestone also said this year's field is strong with the teams being a lot more solid in their one through five runners. He said he is confident they can do well if they focus on their race.

"We know what we need to do," he said. "We need to just run our own race and finish together. If we do that, we can make a run at the top four. If we finish strong like I know we can, I think we have a good chance at being on the podium and bringing home a trophy."

Junior Josh Rohatinsky (Provo) will once again led the Cougar pack as he looks to put together his second consecutive All-America performance. Last season Rohatinsky place 22nd at the national championships earning his first cross country All-America honor. He has continued to perform well this season with first place finishes at the Roy Griak Invitational and the Mountain West Conference Championships, and third place finishes at Pre-Nationals and the NCAA Mt. Region Championships.

In the last eight seasons the women have fared well at the NCAA Championships winning four national titles (1997, 1999, 2001 and 2002) and three runners-up finishes. The men's fifth-place finish at last year's NCAA Championships was their best finish since the 1993 Cougars placed second.

Monday's meet will be at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center, and will begin with the men taking off at noon and the women at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.