Josh Rohatinky finished first overall at the NCAA Mountain Regionals
ALBUQUERQUE -- The men's and women's cross country teams came away victorious as they competed in the NCAA Mountain Region meet on Saturday.
The BYU men's overall score of 67 points placed them behind No. 2 Colorado (59) to finish in second place. No. 4 UTEP finished third with 86 points.
"The guys ran very well," said men's head coach Ed Eyestone. "They had a good performance which exceeded my expectations."
Once again Josh Rohatinsky led the Cougars with his stellar performance. With a time of 29:51.6 he had a first place finish, four seconds ahead of North Arizona's Joseph Lomong. Throughout most of the race, Rohatinsky put himself in a leadership position and ran with the front pack. With less than a mile to go he pulled ahead and went on to a comfortable win.
Rounding out the top five for the men was Kyle Perry (10), Jacob Gustafsson (17), Dustin Bybee (18) and Chandler Goodwin (21). These five runners were also awarded All-Region honors.
"What ultimately made the difference for our teams was having our third, fourth and fifth guys finish so close to one another," said Eyestone. "Not only that, but all of our top five runners received All-Region honors. That's what I'm most proud of."
Finishing in the top two provides the team with an automatic bid to the national championships. The team will hold light practices leading up to that event.
"This sets the table quite nicely for next week," said Eyestone. "Our confidence is high and our guys aren't coming away from this meet physically spent. It was an overall great day."
The No. 12 women also had a great day as they placed third behind Colorado and Texas Tech. The second and third place teams were separated by seven points, while only two points decided the third and fourth teams.
"This was probably the closest finish this region has ever had," said women's head coach Patrick Shane. "This particular meet was not a championship meet. It was a qualifying meet. Our objective was to qualify for the national championships."
Junior Kassi Andersen finished third overall with a time of 20:41.6. She led the top five which included Amber Duffin (7), Breanne Sandberg (21), Jenna Jensen (31) and Tawny Bybee (32). Shane was very pleased with the individual performances of his runners.
"Jenna really came through," he said. "She picked up the slack. Amber also had an amazing performance. That was probably the best race of her life."
"I felt strong and went into the race with a good attitude," said Duffin. "As nationals come up I'll just keep doing what I've been doing all season and try not to stress about it."
Sophomore Amy Fowler went down at about the halfway point in the race with an injury. Despite the setback, the team's tremendous depth came through and finished the race.
With the top two teams automatically advancing to the national meet, BYU may receive a bid after their past performances this season are reviewed and considered. Shane is sure his team will race one more time this season.
"We ran very well considering some unforeseen problems," said Shane. "We just need to get healthy to run in nine days at nationals."
Up next both teams will compete in the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 20. The meet will be held in Terre Haute, Ind., hosted by Indiana State University.