Cross Country Running at Nationals

Kassi Andersen will lead the Cougars as they run at the National Championships on Monday (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- The BYU cross country teams look to finish their seasons strong as they travel to Terre Haute, Ind. to compete in the NCAA National Championships.

The No. 8 men are coming off a second-place finish at the Mt. Region meet on Nov. 11, which gave them an automatic bid to the national championships.

Men's head coach Ed Eyestone feels that the team's performances throughout the season at important meets, such as Pre-Nationals and Oregon, have prepared them for nationals.

"This is what it all comes down to," he said. "Qualifying at Regionals and receiving an automatic bid was a huge thing for us. That was our best team performance all season."

The Cougars will be competing against the top teams in the nation, but Eyestone feels his athletes are prepared and ready to compete.

"Every year I tell my team the same thing," he said. "Our goal is to score less than 200 points. We don't need to be the heroes, but as long as we get solid races out of everyone and get less than 200 points, we are likely to be on the podium."

Senior Josh Rohatinsky will look to lead the Cougars in the final race of his collegiate career. Last season Rohatinsky placed third at the national championships, earning his second consecutive All-America honor. He has continued to perform well this season, placing first at the Bill Dellinger Invitational, MWC Championship and Mt. Region meet.

The No. 17 women's team is heading to the national championships by way of an at-large bid. Placing fourth at the Pre-National race and having a very successful season prior to the regional meet, the Cougars placed themselves in good position to receive the bid.

"About 15 years ago I sat on the committee that determined the criteria," said women's head coach Patrick Shane. "I knew because of the showings we had at Pre-Nationals and Oregon that we would go."

Junior Kassi Andersen, who has led BYU all season, will once again be looked to as the frontrunner for the Cougars. Accompanying Andersen will be Breanne Sandberg, Amy Fowler, Amber Duffin, Tawny Bybee. Jenna Taylor Jensen and Anne Heiner.

"Kassi is more than capable of finishing in the top five," said Shane. "Today we will find out where Amy stands. She's running again and we're hopeful."

In the last nine 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 the 2004 NCAA Championships was their best finish since the 1993 Cougars placed second.

The meet will be held on Monday, Nov. 20 at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. The women will begin at noon, with the men following at 1:15 p.m. EST.