Women Head for Hawaii

Chelsea Smith McKell, winner of last week's meet, will be running on familiar turf on Saturday as the women race in Hawaii. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- After winning last week's Autumn Classic, the women's cross country team will head to Hawaii for the Big Wave Invitational.

"We're taking some very good runners," women's head coach Patrick Shane said. "I think it will be a strong team."

Chelsea Smith McKell, who won last week's Autumn Classic, will have a homecoming of sorts. She transferred to BYU from BYU-Hawaii after last season. She ran at BYU-H for three seasons and captured the NCAA Division II national title in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

There will be eight other girls making the trip with Chelsea, including All-American Kristen Ogden, who recently returned from an LDS mission. True freshman Brooke Kirby, who ran unattached last week and placed 15th, will be putting on the BYU uniform for the first time.

With the depth of this years team coach Shane was able to keep most of the runners, who are making the trip to Hawaii, out of last week's meet. In doing so, he said they were able to train hard and he feels they are ready to go.

"We've got a talented team," Shane said. "If we can take seven of eight athletes that maybe wouldn't be in our top five and say now its up to you, they will rise to the occasion."

Shane said the local teams from Hawaii always participate in the meet along with a few from the mainland making the field deep.

The men's team has the week off to prepare for their road trip to Minnesota, where they will race in the Griak Invitational. The Mondo Men's NCAA-I Cross Country Pre-Season poll has them rank No. 4 after last week.

Men's head coach Ed Eyestone said the poll is based on last season as well as the first two meets of this season. He also said this is the highest the Cougars have been ranked this early in the season for a long time.