Cross Country Running Home

Heidi Magill and Chelsea McKell, two of the top runners in the Mt. Region, look to capture a Mt. Region title to add to this season's list accoplishments.

PROVO -- After sweeping the Mountain West Conference Championships for the second year in a row, the BYU cross country teams are set to host the Mt. Region Championship on Saturday, Nov. 12, at East Bay Golf Course in Provo.

"We're really excited to have a race of this caliber at home," women's head coach Patrick Shane said. "It's nice for our team to have a championship formatted race in front of their family and friends. It's a great opportunity to show the team off to the local fans."

In capturing the MWC title in Fort Collins, Colo., last Saturday, the No. 7 women's team made it their 17th in a row.

Shane said he is pleased with his team's performance thus far and is confident they will continue to run well. He said they are peaking at just the right time.

"We should have one of our best outings of the season," Shane said.

The women will be running against 17 other teams making up some great competition. Northern Arizona is coming into the race with a national ranking of 17 and the Colorado Buffaloes, defending national champions, are ranked 10th. Shane said it is going to be an exciting matchup.

"BYU and Colorado have developed a classic matchup year in and year out," he said. Colorado is fantastic. If they step up at their fifth spot they can be even better."

The women have been led all season by the combination of Chelsea Smith McKell and Heidi Magill. Shane said coming into the race, they should be two of the favorites to win. He said Kristen Bolf of Colorado is a strong runner and should be in contention for the individual title along with some other really good individuals on from several other teams.

On the men's side. the No. 6 Cougars are in a good spot. They have had a great season picking up major wins at the Griak Invitational and the MWC Championships. In addition, they came up with a second place finish at the Pre-National meet. Eyestone said he just wants to keep things going.

"This is a great opportunity for us," Eyestone said. "We're familiar with the course. Our objective is to advance and prepare for nationals."

Eyestone said the race isn't a do or die situation but we want to run well. He said the team needs to run a smart and controlled race.

Like the women, the men's 16-team field has solid competition. The Cougars sit right in the middle of No. 8 UTEP and defending national champions, No. 3 Colorado.

"There are some great teams coming to this race," Eyestone said. "Colorado is great and UTEP is strong. Both teams are very formidable."

After picking up All-America honors in 2004, junior Josh Rohatinsky is backing it up with another rock-solid season. Winning the Griak Invitational and the Pre-National Blue Race has put him atop the list of favorites.

"Rohatinsky is certainly one of the top runners in the region," Eyestone said. " Colorado and UTEP have some great runners as well, but Josh can run with anybody."

The men are set to take off at 11:00 a.m., and the women will follow at 12:00 p.m. There will be an awards ceremony to follow scheduled for 1:00 p.m. The course at East Bay is set up to be spectator friendly with a four leaf clover shape bring the runners close to the start and finish lines several times throughout the race.

In both races the first and second place teams receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 21, in Terre Haute, Ind.