Chandler Goodwin is returning to help the Cougars defend their MWC title. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- It's a new season for the men's cross country team, and after winning the MWC title and placing fifth at Nationals, they have marked themselves as a team in contention for champion status.
"We had a great year last year," Coach Ed Eyestone said. "As a team we all feel like we can do even better this year."
Last season's fifth place finish at nationals was the best for the men since the 1993 Cougars placed second. Although the team lost a few top runners from last season, in Bryan Lindsay, Nathan Robison and Chad Durham, they will be returning several runners who made key contributions.
"We lost four of our top seven, but we have three of our top four guys from nationals returning," Eyestone said. "We have the core nucleus of top guys returning. So it's just a matter of some guys stepping up and filling in around them."
All-American Josh Rohatinski will return to once again lead the team. He will be joined by, Chandler Goodwin, Dustin Bybee, Josh McAdams and Nick McCombs, who are all expected to play a significant role for the Cougars.
Rohatinski is coming off a phenomenal season where he placed 22nd at nationals, that earned him All-American honors, and third in the MWC Championships where he was awarded First Team MWC.
Rohatinski was the first BYU runner to cross the finish line in all seven meets last season, including first place finishes in the Alumni Invitational, the Autumn Classic and the Notre Dame Invitational.
"Josh is the purest distance runner we have," Eyestone said. "He is the front runner for the team. He has got some pretty wide shoulders for us to depend on. It is good to have him up front."
Goodwin ran in six of the seven meets last season with his best finishes coming at the Alumni Invitational (4th) and the Autumn Classic (7th). He also placed 44th at nationals.
"Chandler had great success his freshman year," said Eyestone. "He was essentially our third man all year long and is coming into the year as strong as ever."
Along with Rohatinski, Dustin Bybee was awarded Fist Team MWC after finishing seventh in the MWC championships. He also ran well in the NCAA Mountain Regional placing 21st.
"Bybee really bloomed toward the end of last season," Eyestone said. "He was the guy who really stepped up, and because of his strong showing he put us in a position to be able to do as well as we did. His confidence grew throughout the season and now he knows that he is capable of being up there."
Josh McAdams enters his senior season with a lot of experience and leadership ability. Last season he ran in four meets including a 17th place finish at the MWC championships and a great track season.
"He was one of the top college runners in track, and he will do extremely well in cross country," Eyestone said.
Nick McCombs will also be a senior this season and will play a leadership role for the team. He ran in five meets last season and his best finish was 6th at the Alumni Classic.
"Nick had some health related issues last year, but is back and there is no one who gives more of an effort than Nick McCombs," Eyestone said. "He is consistently strong, which is what you want in a fifth man."
In addition to these runners, there are a number of returning runners who should be solid for the team. This year's recruiting class may also get the opportunity to contribute. Eyestone said he felt good about the recruits, and said there are a few runners who could make an immediate impact.
"A couple of recruits that I think will do well for us are Alden Bahr and Miles Batty. They both ran sub-30 minutes at a 10K during the summer. Joining them will be the guy who had the best track season of any of these guys, and that will be Josh Adams.
The Cougars will be hosting three meets this season including this year's Mountain Regional on Nov. 12. The season begins with two home meets, the Alumni Invitational and the Autumn Classic. The Alumni Classic will be held on Sep. 3. On Sep. 10, the Cougars will play host at Cascade Golf Course for the Autumn Classic.
After a week off the Cougars will travel to Minnesota to run in the Griak Invitational on Sep. 29. There they will have the opportunity to see how they match up with several other top teams in the nation. On Oct. 15 the team will race the course where the NCAA championships will be, in Terre Haute, Ind., in the Pre-Nationals Meet.
This season's MWC Championships with be held on Oct. 29 in Fort Collins, Colo. The Cougars will then play host for the NCAA Mountain Regional meet on November 12, and the NCAA Championships will be on Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
"The main focus will be the Conference Championship and the NCAA meet," Eyestone said. "Everything else is in preparation for these two meets. The Mountain Regional will be fun. We love running in front of our families and friends."
With all this in place, coach Eyestone said his team is ready to build upon what they accomplished last season.
"Once you get the ball rolling sometimes it's easy to keep it rolling, but you need to make sure you don't get complacent," Eyestone said. "Certainly this year we have no intention of doing that. We want to build on our success from last year. Our philosophy is, fifth place is good, but we can do better."