Junior Stephan Shay will run in his first race in more than a month at nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Traveling to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Cross Country National Championships is something to which the BYU women's and men's teams are accustomed.
Four national titles for the women (1997, 1999, 2001, 2002), and seven top-25 finishes in as many years for the men, indicate that Terre Haute is a place where the two teams feel right at home.
"More than the fact that we're familiar with the course itself, we know the importance of the race, and that helps us rise to the occasion," BYU men's coach Ed Eyestone said.
Both races will be nationally televised live Monday on CSTV. The BYU men's team will hit the 10K course at 12:05 p.m., and the women's team will follow at 12:55 p.m. (ET)
The No. 17 women's team enters nationals following a third-place finish at the Mountain Region Championships, giving the team an at-large bid into the biggest race of the year. The team's young guns have been leading all year, and nationals will be no exception.
Freshman Angela Wagner led the team at regionals with a 6K time of 21:12, good for ninth place, and Cecily Lemmon, a redshirt freshman, finished four seconds behind Wagner in 12th place. Sophomore Katie Bowen, who placed fifth at the prestigious Bill Dellinger Invitational earlier in the year, will undoubtedly be running alongside Wagner and Lemmon at nationals.
"We have a lot of youth up front that have come along and really developed nicely this year," BYU women's coach Patrick Shane said. "I think when you combine our youth with our experience, we're going to run well at nationals. Our senior leadership has been fantastic this year, and they really understand their roles."
Though the team's younger runners will likely be in the top three, it's the team's experienced runners who add depth and consistently finish out the scoring five. Seniors Jenna Jensen and Tawny Bybee, along with juniors Amber Duffin and Amy Fowler Layne have played key roles in the success of BYU's team this year, providing the Cougars with their trademark depth.
On the men's side, senior Chandler Goodwin and junior Stephan Shay have been battling out for the top spot on the team.
Shay started the year off fast with two second-place overall finishes, one at the BYU Autumn Classic and the other coming at the Dave Murray Invitational. A sore back and food poisoning have kept him out of the team's last two races. His last complete race was pre-nationals on Oct. 13.
Goodwin placed first for the Cougars and 13th overall at the Notre Dame Invitational, a race that included many of the top runners in the country. At regionals last week, Goodwin finished in 11th place.
"My personal goal is to finish in the top 25 at nationals so I can finish my cross country career at BYU as an All-American, and our team goal is to finish in the top 10," Goodwin said.
BYU seniors Dustin Bybee and Tyrel Jensen, both first-team All-MWC recipients, will run their final cross country race in a BYU uniform on Monday. Bybee placed first for the Cougars at the MWC Championships and Jensen came in third for BYU and seventh overall. Senior Derek Taylor will also be running his last cross country race. Taylor came on strong at the end of the year, placing 14th at the MWC Championships and 29th overall at regionals.
"We've got a good nucleus of seniors on the team, and I think they realize that and are going to run well for us at nationals," Eyestone said.