BLOOMINGTON -- BYU's No. 3 women's and No. 7 men's cross country teams were impressive at the Pre-NCAA Invitational, finishing in second- and eighth place, respectively in a meet designed as a dress rehearsal for the NCAA Championships, to be run on the same course Nov. 22.
The women, running without their top returning runner from 1998, Sharolyn Shields, finished with 116 points. Stanford won the team title with 77 points. Colorado was third with 123 points, followed by North Carolina (209) and Kansas State (225).
All-American sophomore Laura Heiner finished first for the Cougars and eighth overall in 17:31. It was the second consecutive time that Heiner has led BYU to the finish line. Shields, who finished in 13th at last year's NCAA finals, did not make the trip to Indiana, staying in Provo to recover from an illness.
Women's head coach Patrick Shane was pleased with the team's finish. "It was pretty much just what we expected going into this meet," said Shane. "We have been training hard with very little rest, but this is just where we want to be. We have five more weeks to get ready for the championships and we are right on target."
The biggest surprise of the day for the Cougars was freshman Sarah Ellett, who finished in the team's fourth spot in 23rd place in an impressive 17:51. "She is doing great," said Shane. "It was definitely the highlight of the day."
Other notable finishers for BYU were All-American Elizabeth Jackson in 10th (17:36) and track All-American Tara Rohatinsky in 18th (17:46). Former WAC Freshman of the Year Tara Haynes rounded out the scoring for the Cougars in 59th (18:14).
On the men's side, BYU's John Hedengren finished first for the Cougars for the third time in as many meets, leading BYU to an eighth-place team finish. Hedengren's time of 24:32 was good for a 13th-place overall finish and is the fastest time in the conference this year. Randon Richards was next for BYU in 32nd (24:52) followed by Mark Lawson in 43rd (25:03).
Stanford won the team competition with 126 points, followed by Colorado (140) and Arizona (186). BYU finished the day with 342 points, ahead of rival Utah's 379 points and 10th-place finish
The team was able to make an impressive showing without the runners at full strength. Every member of the team has had the flu in recent weeks, while senior Matt Poulsen, BYU's team leader in 1998, has been struggling with asthma-related complications.
The Cougars' next meet is the Mountain West Conference Championships Oct. 29 in Provo. The meet is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. with admission free to the public.
TEAM RESULTS - WOMEN
1. Stanford 77
2. BYU 116
3. Colorado 123
4. North Carolina 209
5. Kansas State 225
6. Georgetown 227
7. Arizona State 306
8. William and Mary 356
9. Boston 362
10. UCLA 364
TEAM RESULTS - MEN
1. Stanford 126
2. Colorado 140
3. Arizona 186
4. Georgetown 194
5. Arizona State 248
6. Notre Dame 249
7. Oregon 307
8. BYU 342
9. Villanova 345
10. Utah 379
BYU FINISHERS - WOMEN 'A'
8. Laura Heiner 17:31.53
10. Elizabeth Jackson 17:36.64
18. Tara Rohatinsky 17:46.73
23. Sarah Ellett 17:51.82
59. Tara Haynes 18:14.58
79. Sherida Rogers 18:26.63
93. Kara Ormond 18:33.18
7. Jill Rencher 18:32.57
26. Kristen Barnes 19:01.26
50. Lindsay Nadauld 19:23.37
13. John Hedengren 24:32.26
32. Randon Richards 24:52.76
43. Mark Lawson 25:03.29
98. Dula Parkinson 25:38.51
166. David Danley 26:17.73
205. Nic McCombs 26:50.12
226. Matt Poulsen 27:24.81
PROVO -- The BYU cross country teams will have an opportunity to position themselves among the favorites for national titles as they participate in the Pre-National Invitational this Saturday, a warm-up for the NCAA Championships in November.
The Pre-Nationals, held in Bloomington, Ind., are meant to be a dress rehearsal for the Nov. 22 NCAA finals, which will also take place in Bloomington.
"It will be a major meet," said BYU men's coach Sherald James. "You get to see exactly where you are in relation to the competition and get a good idea of the terrain."
The men, ranked No. 7 in the nation, are finally in race shape after battling injury and illness throughout the beginning of the season. All of the runners have had the flu, and several are still feeling its effects.
Although Coach James is admittedly surprised by his team's high ranking, he feels that the team's best races are still ahead of it. "I was really surprised after the Minnesota meet, but I always had a feeling we'd be really good. If the team is healthy, with consistent training, I feel we can be in the top five," said James.
BYU's women, healthy and with a full roster, should have their best race of the season. "We will run better in this race than we have all season. We're more prepared than we have been in earlier races," said Coach Patrick Shane.
For the first time this season, the No. 3 Cougars will send their top six runners to the starting line. Practices have been lighter in the last two weeks, although the athletes have still been hard at work.
Coach Shane sees the race as valuable preparation for the championships next month. "It would have helped tremendously last year, when we didn't participate in the pre-national. The run-through is great for mental imagery and visualization. We'll learn the course and will be confident for when we go back."
The meet will include a majority of the nation's best talent. The women's draw will include eight of the top ten teams and 17 in the top 25. Six of the top ten and 14 of the top 25 men's teams will also compete. In all, 51 men's and 53 women's teams are scheduled to compete.
Events are scheduled to begin Saturday, Oct. 16 at 10 a.m. CDT. Results will be available online at www.athletics.indiana.edu