Nation's Best at Pre-Nationals

Chandler Goodwin, BYU's team captain, will look to lead the Cougars as they head to Pre-Nationals. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- A stacked lineup awaits the BYU men's and women's cross country teams at Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday.

The men's pool consists of 83 teams, 27 of which are ranked in the national top 30. On the women's side, a total of 82 teams will make the trip, with 22 teams in the top 30.

"This will be the most competitive meet we run in until we get to Nationals," BYU women's coach Patrick Shane said. "It's going to be an opportunity for us to see if we're making progress as a team."

The teams will be evenly divided and compete in either the Blue or White races. The BYU men will compete in the 8K Blue men's race, beginning at 11 a.m. EST. The Cougar women will run in the 6K White race, beginning at 12:55 p.m.

The BYU women's and men's teams have never finished outside the top 10 at Pre-Nationals, with the women winning the race in 2000, 2002 and 2003.

Freshman Angela Wagner and sophomore Katie Bowen have led the Cougars in their first few races. Wagner paced all Cougar runners at the BYU Autumn Classic with a third-place finish, earning Mountain West Conference Athlete of the Week honors. Bowen led the way in Oregon at the Bill Dellinger Invitational two weeks ago, placing fifth with a 6K time of 20:31.

"We're looking to run together for longer periods of time and keep our top five splits as close together as possible," Shane said. "In terms of team goals, we want to beat teams that are in the top 30, giving us a better shot at qualifying for Nationals if we don't automatically qualify through Regionals."

On the men's side, junior Stephan Shay and senior Chandler Goodwin have been out front for the Cougars. Shay finished in second place at the BYU Autumn Classic and the Dave Murray Invitational. With his performance at the Classic, the MWC honored him with the Athlete of the Week award. Goodwin, a 2005 All-American, placed 13th at the Notre Dame Invitational two weeks ago to lead the Cougars to a seventh-place finish.

"Pre-Nationals will be a good test for the team," men's coach Ed Eyestone said. "It's always fun to race against the best competition around, and that's what Pre-Nationals offers us."