PROVO -- Eager for another competition following second-place performances at the Mountain West Conference Championships two weeks ago, the men’s and women’s cross country teams are prepared for the NCAA Mountain Regional on Saturday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The men’s 10K race will be first at 10:45 a.m. MT while the women’s 6K will begin at noon. Both will take place at the University of New Mexico Golf Course.
BYU’s No. 22 women’s team will square off with the likes of No. 6 Colorado, No. 8 Texas Tech, and No. 20 New Mexico along with Northern Arizona, UTEP, Colorado State and Southern Utah.
“We’re looking forward to a tough competition,” said BYU women’s cross country head coach Patrick Shane. “We hope to run well enough to advance to nationals, but we’ll have our work cut out for us. With two very good top-8 teams and New Mexico who just beat us, we need to run together in order to advance.”
The top two schools automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will take place Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind. With the strength of the teams in the Mountain region and points earned during the season, it is anticipated that the top three or four teams will advance.
Cecily Lemmon-Lew, Angela Wagner, Katy Andrews, Nicole Nielsen, Rachel Lange, and Ashlee Thomas will compete while a seventh runner is yet to be determined.
“Our goal is to punch our ticket to nationals by earning one of the top spots at this meet then get healthy in time for nationals,” Shane said.
The No. 14 BYU men’s team will face No. 4 Northern Arizona, No. 5 Colorado and No. 12 New Mexico along with Utah State and UTEP, among others.
“We need to run a solid race because the teams ranked ahead of us are very stong,” said BYU men’s cross country head coach Ed Eyestone. “We’ll try to put together a good race and at the same time not run ourselves into the ground. I’ll be happy with a second or third-place finish so we can still accomplish our goal of competing at nationals.”
Coach Eyestone believes the top four finishers will advance to nationals due to their overall strength and performances from the season.
Miles Batty, Richard Nelson, Tommy Gruenewald, Nate Ogden, Brandon Hebbert, Alden Bahr and Ryan Merriman will compete for the team.
“We hope to qualify and build confidence for nationals,” Eyestone said.