PROVO -- Championship season begins Friday for the BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams as they head to Laramie, Wyo. for the 2010 Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships.
The men’s team is looking to bring home the conference title it has held for eight of the last 10 seasons. Men’s head coach Ed Eyestone would like to make it nine of 11.
“We’d like to go out on top,” Eyestone said. “The guys realize we have our work cut out for us though.”
Defending champions, New Mexico, are strong again coming into the meet ranked No. 12 in the USTFCCCA poll, one spot higher than the No. 13 Cougars.
“If we can close our gaps and break up their top guys I think we can do enough to win,” Eyestone said. “I think we are in good shape.”
Miles Batty, the junior from Sandy, is hoping to the lead the way for the Cougars and compete for an individual championship. Batty has been BYU’s top finisher in every race this season and has been one of the top runners in the nation.
The women of New Mexico, currently ranked No. 10, poses the main threat for the women's team as they also try to regain the MWC title. BYU has finished second to the Lobos for the past three seasons after winning the title each season from 1999 – 2006.
“We go into this race with a singular focus and that is to win the conference,” BYU women’s head coach Patrick Shane said. “We have had to deal with being second the last three years and we are prepared to make the leap back to number one.”
Junior Kate Bowen is expected to pace the Cougars as she has for the majority of this season. Bowen enters the championships with the best 6K time in the MWC this season (20:42.3).
Reigning MWC champion Cecily Lemmon-Lew will try to defend her title in only her second race of the season. Lemmon-Lew has been hampered by injuries for the majority of the season and competed for the first time in 2010 at Pre-Nationals on Oct. 16.
Also expecting to be out in front for BYU are junior Katy Andrews and sophomore Nicole Nielsen. Andrews has the second fastest 6K time for the Cougars this season (21:02.1) while Nielsen looks to improve on her 11th-place finish in 2009.
“This race will be a team effort,” Shane said. “We have a race strategy in place and if everyone does their part and is unselfish then we can be successful.”
Start time for the women’s 6K is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. MST and the men’s 8K at 11:00 a.m. MST. Complete results and photos will be available at the conclusion of the event at the Mountain West web site (TheMWC.com).