The women's team looks to qualify for nationals this weekend at the NCAA Mountain Regional Championships. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The BYU men's and women's cross country teams will compete at the NCAA Mountain Regional Championships this Saturday at Schneiter's Riverside Golf Course in Riverdale, Utah.
The men's 10K race will begin at 11 a.m. followed by the women's 6K race at 12:15 p.m.
Both teams will be battling for a spot at the NCAA Championships. The top two teams in the nation's nine regions receive automatic bids with 13 other teams from around the nation receiving at-large bids.
The No. 17 women's team is looking to bounce back from a second-place finish at the conference meet two weeks ago. The Cougars, ranked No. 3 in the Mountain Region, lost to Colorado State, a team the Cougars will face at regionals. Colorado State in ranked No. 1 in the region, followed by Colorado.
"If we are hitting on all cylinders on race day, we're as good as anyone in the region," said BYU women's coach Patrick Shane.
At the conference meet, the Cougars were led by sophomore Katie Bowen and freshman Angela Wagner. Bowen, a transfer from Weber State, finished third overall with a 6K time of 21:28 at the conference meet and will be returning to run in the Ogden, Utah, area for the first time as a Cougar. Wagner finished fourth at the conference meet in 21:33. Bowen and Wagner were both named to the All-MWC First Team.
"Katie and Angela are both training well since the conference meet, and they're in the best shape they've been in all year," Shane said.
Second-team All-MWC recipients Tawny Bybee, Cecily Lemmon, Amber Duffin and Jenna Jensen are also training well according to Shane.
The women's team placed third in last year's regional meet but moved on to nationals with an at-large berth.
Despite a win at the Mountain West Conference Championships two weeks ago, the men's team realizes it has to run the best race of the year at regionals to qualify for nationals.
"We've got the toughest region in the nation," said BYU coach Ed Eyestone, emphasizing that No. 2 Northern Arizona, No. 3 UTEP and No. 5 Colorado are all in the Mountain Region. "We need to run much better than we did at conference to make it to nationals this year."
The men's team is led by first-team All-MWC runner Chandler Goodwin and senior Stephan Shay. Goodwin finished fifth at the conference championships with an 8K time of 25:00. Shay pulled out of the conference meet with a sore back, but Eyestone said he has recovered and will be ready to run. Another setback for Shay occurred at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials when his older brother, Ryan Shay, collapsed and later passed away at the hospital. Stephan will be returning from his home state of Michigan on Friday, running on Saturday and going back home for the funeral services on Sunday.
"The team has rallied behind Stephan, and he's coping the best he can considering the situation," Eyestone said. "We gave him the option to run or not to run, and he is choosing to run."
The Cougars also had solid performances at the conference meet from seniors Dustin Bybee and Tyrel Jensen. Bybee finished third overall and first for BYU with Jensen following in seventh place overall. Both Bybee and Jensen received first-team All-MWC honors.
Last year, the men's team moved on to nationals with a second-place finish at the regional championships.