All-American Josh Rohatinsky will lead the men's team at the Griak Invitational in Minnesota on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Both the men's (No. 5) and women's (No. 6) teams are on the road this Saturday, facing their stiffest competition of the season in the Griak Invitational, in Minnesota for the men, and the Great America Cross Country Festival, in North Carolina for the women.
"The competition will be very good," women's head coach Patrick Shane said. "It will be the best we've seen by 10 fold. We're in the fire. We were standing outside there for a while but we're in it now."
The women are coming off two first place finishes at the BYU Autumn Classic and the Big Wave Invitational. Chelsea Smith McKell led the team in both races with first place finishes.
BYU will run two teams on Saturday. The A-team will race in the Nike Race of Champs, while the B-team will be showcased in the University Women Race. Smith McKell will run on the A-team and Heidi Magill, 2004 MWC Freshman of the Year, will join her for her first race of the season. The B-team will feature Sarah Ingebretsen, second place finisher at the Big Wave Invitational.
Shane said he thinks both teams will run well. He said his girls have been working hard this season. His only concern is that they have trained too hard and could come out flat, but he wouldn't change that, he feels good about where they stand.
"I think our season has gone just right," he said. "We've been able to come along and train really hard to this point."
The men are heading to Minnesota after a week off. Prior to that they placed first in the BYU Autumn classic with Dustin Bybee and Chandler Goodwin coming in first and second, respectively.
"We'll be running against some good competition," men's head coach Ed Eyestone said. "We will see how we fair against them."
Because of the good competition Eyestone said the Griak is the first chance the team has to get a feel for where they stand. In addition, he said this race brings a change for his team because they will be running a five-mile course compared to a four-mile course they have been running.
"This will be our first test of the year," Eyestone said. "We'll be running twelve of our top guys. I think we are well prepared. We've had a couple guys with sniffles and a little bit under the weather, but with taking twelve guys I'm sure we're going to have at least five that will step it up and run well."
The men's top runner, Josh Rohatinsky sat out the Autumn Classic but will be back to lead the Cougar pack.