Mountain Regional Champion Cougar Women on Their Way to NCAAs; Third-Place Men Likely to Follow

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (November 13) - BYU's women are going back to the NCAA Championships for the 11th consecutive time after winning the Mountain Regional qualifying meet with a near-perfect score of 20 Saturday.

The men are also probable NCAA qualifiers, as they look to appear in the team finals for the first time since 1995. Although their third-place showing did not earn them one of 18 automatic spots up for grabs this weekend, their No. 12 ranking should be enough to earn them one of 12 at-large bids to be distributed by the selection committee Monday.

After scoring a perfect 15 in the Mountain West Conference Championships two weeks ago, the women destroyed the field once again, with runners finishing second through sixth for a total of 20 points. Colorado finished in second with 55 points, led by NCAA favorite Kara Wheeler, who won the race in 16:39. Sharolyn Shields finished first for the Cougars in 17:03 to take second place. Elizabeth Jackson (17:05), Susan Taylor (17:05), Tara Rohatinsky (17:07) and Kara Ormond (17:07) rounded out the scoring for the tightly-packed Cougars.

"It was such a good team meet for us," said Shields. "We were gaining so much strength from each other. Seeing how strong we all are now, I think we'll do really well at nationals."

"I have to admit I'm a little surprised by the outcome," said head coach Patrick Shane. "Our strategy was conservative: to run the first mile and a half in a single grouping and then break into smaller packs the rest of the way. For us to finish with 20 points at this meet is unheard of. It's much more impressive than our perfect score two weeks ago [at the MWC Championships]."

Senior Susan Taylor was the big story of the day for BYU. In only her second meet of the year, Taylor finished in fourth place in a heavily talented field. Coach Shane called Taylor his "secret weapon," since she seemingly came out of nowhere after a two-month absence from competition. After falling ill at the BYU Triple Crown nearly two months ago, Taylor missed so much practice time that it looked like her season and career were over.

On the men's side, it was Dula Parkinson that returned from illness to inspire his teammates. Parkinson had missed the conference championship meet and several practices before bouncing back to finish third on the team Saturday.

John Hedengren led the way for the Cougars with a fourth-place, 30:24 finish. Randon Richards finished in 12th (31:12), Parkinson in 21st (31:35), Marc Lawson in 24th (31:40) and David Danley in 30th (31:48) to round out the scoring for BYU.

Unranked Southern Utah University shocked the cross country world by taking first in the region with 57 points. Colorado finished in second (61) followed by BYU (91). The SUU Thunderbirds were not expected to make much noise in the talented region that included five of the nation's top 25 teams. Although the Cougars took third, they finished ahead of No. 14 Northern Arizona, No. 16 Weber State and No. 23 Utah to all but lock up a spot in the NCAA finals.

"I'm proud of our performance here today," said men's coach Sherald James. "John is putting together a spectacular season and it felt good to have Dula back. I feel good about our team's chances to qualify for nationals. We ran well enough to advance but conservatively enough so that we should be in good shape a week from Monday [at the NCAAs]."

The NCAA Championships will be held Monday, November 22 in Bloomington, Ind. The men's race will begin at 11 a.m., while the women's race is scheduled for a 12:15 p.m. start.


1. BYU 20

2. Colorado 55

3. Northern Arizona 95

4. Montana State 162

5. Utah State 171

6. Idaho State 174

7. Weber State 175

7. Texas Tech 175

9. Nevada 226

10. Montana 229


2. Sharolyn Shields 17:03.73

3. Elizabeth Jackson 17:05.01

4. Susan Taylor 17:05.95

5. Tara Rohatinsky 17:07.07

6. Kara Ormond 17:07.65

15. Laura Heiner 17:34.61

21. Jill Rencher 17:58.62


1. Southern Utah 57

2. Colorado 61

3. BYU 91

4. Northern Arizona 124

5. Weber State 132

6. Idaho State 158

7. Utah 175

8. Air Force 199

9. Colorado State 220

10. Texas Tech 246


4. John Hedengren 30:24.03

12. Randon Richards 31:12.67

21. Dula Parkinson 31:35.92

24. Marc Lawson 31:40.71

30. David Danley 31:48.33

47. Matt Poulsen 32:42.60

63. Nate Harrison 33:14.87