Men, Women To Face Tough Competition On the Road

The BYU women's team travels to Oregon for the Bill Dellinger Invitational on Saturday (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Both BYU's No. 18-ranked women's and No. 20-ranked men's cross country teams hit the road for high-powered meets this weekend.

The women's team travels to Springfield, Ore., for the Bill Dellinger Invitational on Friday at 9:15 a.m. PST and the men's team heads to the Notre Dame Invitational on Saturday at 5 p.m. EDT. These are the first meets of the season when points toward nationals begin to add up.

"It's a very competitive meet and the level of competition will be exceptionally high," said Patrick Shane, BYU women's head coach of the Dellinger Invite. "By beating ranked teams we would enhance our chances of qualifying for nationals."

The Dellinger Invite will feature five top-25 NCAA finishers from 2006, including No. 4 Arkansas, last year's meet champion, No. 15 Georgia, No. 17 Washington, No. 18 BYU and No. 21 Colorado State. In 2006 at the invite, the BYU women's team placed second behind Arkansas.

The women's team is coming off a commanding victory at the Big Wave Invitational in Hawai`i, scoring just 20 points. With BYU's top runners resting, redshirt freshman Cecily Lemmon stepped up and placed second to lead all Cougar runners.

Stiff competition awaits the men in South Bend, Ind., as well. Six ranked teams highlight the men's race, including No. 9 North Carolina State, No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 14 Providence, No. 20 BYU, No. 24 Florida State and No. 25 Michigan. BYU's most recent trip to Notre Dame was in 2004 when the Cougars finished in fifth place. N.C. State won last year's race.

"This is going to be our first big invitational of the year," BYU men's coach Ed Eyestone said. "We're very excited about the opportunity to hook horns with some of these guys and see how we compare on the national level."

At the Dave Murray Invitational two weeks ago in Arizona, the Cougars finished in first place. Stephan Shay, a junior from East Jordan, Mich., placed first among college runners.