Cougars Finish Season Strong
TERRE HAUTE -- The men's and women's cross country teams finished their season's respectively as they laid it on the line at this years NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Josh Rohatinsky and Laura Turner did what they have done all year, as they led each of their teams to a top ten finish.
The men put the hammer down on the LaVern Gibson course, as each of the athletes orchestrated a great team effort by finishing their 2004 cross country season, fifth in the nation.
"I'm ecstatic for the guys," men's coach Ed Eyestone said. "We came one place short of where we wanted to be, but I'm very proud of the guys. Anytime you finish in the top five, it's a great accomplishment.
Rohatinsky placed 22nd overall out of 243 runners, with a time of 31:45. The sophomore dug through and fought his way to an All-American finish.
"It wasn't my best race, but it was good to finish where I did," Rohatinsky said. "I'm not upset with myself; I just know I could have gone harder."
The men's fifth place finish is their best finish since 1993, when the Cougars placed second in the nation.
"We set very high goals at the beginning of the season," Eyestone added. "It just goes to show, when you set your goals and you work hard enough to reach them anything can happen. I'm very proud of the guys."
Trailing just a few meters behind Rohatinsky was senior Bryan Lindsay. Lindsay finished with a time of 32:05, placing him 41st overall.
"It was like running threw quicksand," Lindsay said. "All you could do was try to pick up your feet and just keep moving."
Behind Lindsay was a pack of Cougars who helped solidify the men's fifth place finish. Freshman, Chandler Goodwin who coach Eyestone noted ran his best race of the year, finished 44th overall with a time of 32:09. Trailing behind Goodwin was freshman Dustin Bybee and senior Chad Durham. Bybee placed 78th overall, with a time of 32:41; as Durham finished with a time of 32:43, placing him 82nd overall.
"The good news is that out of our top five runners today, three of them are returning for us," added Eyestone.
As for the women, history was made as Turner became only the second BYU women's cross country runner to earn four All-American citations.
"I felt so good today," noted Turner who finished the women's 6K event in fourth place. "I rarely have a good kick at the end and I did that today."
Turner sits with Michaela Mannova as the only two BYU women's runners to finish fourth at the NCAA championships. Mannova did it last year as she went on to win her third cross country All-America citation.
"I'm absolutely thrilled with Laura's fourth place finish," women's coach Patrick Shane said. "She's in an elite group of two cross country runners. The worst she's done was 26th her freshman year. She just continued to get better and better."
Despite the women's eighth place finish, Shane is proud of the way his team handled the adversity and obstacles that came before them early in the year.
"I'm pleased with our eighth place finish," Shane said. "It's been an unusual year; it's been a faith builder.
Finishing behind Turner was teammate Rena Chesser. The senior finished the race with a time of 21:22, placing her 37th overall.
"I felt we went out fast and it was the fastest I've ever started," Chesser added. "But the course was much slower than at pre-nationals."
Coming in behind Chesser was freshman Heidi Magill. Magill ran the 6K event in a time of 21:48, placing her 58th overall. Teammates Julie Cameron and Amber Harper rounded out the scoring for the women.
Cameron finished with a time of 22:11, placing the freshman 89th overall as Harper finished 105th, with a time of 22:18.
"I told the team in a meeting we were a sixth place team give or take two spots," Shane said. "We had a rough go out there, but I'm pleased to be eighth."
This gives the women 16 straight top ten finishes, which dates all the way back to 1988.
"We struggled early in the year," Shane said. "But we can be grateful for a lot of things. It's times like these that remind you of what you should be grateful for."
Here Come the Cougars
PROVO -- The final test for the Cougars comes this weekend as they travel to Terre Haute, Indiana for the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
The No. 8 ranked men's team is coming off a great performance at the NCAA Mt. Region event, where they cruised to a second place finish behind No. 4 ranked Colorado.
"We got through regionals and that's what we wanted to do," men's coach Ed Eyestone said. "We got a few aches and pains, but the guys are hungry and excited to surprise some people this weekend."
The women also are coming off a second place finish at the region event in Fort Collins, Colorado, where they finished just 22 points behind No. 3 ranked Colorado.
"I think we're going to peak at the right time," women's coach Patrick Shane said. "I'm pleased with our race last week and that encourages me."
Shane has won four NCAA national titles in seven years, with his most recent coming in 2002. Last year at the NCAA Championships, Shane's team fell just eight points behind the defending national champions Stanford Cardinal. Although it is unlikely this year's team may win their fifth national title, Shane has been known to have his team peak at the right moment.
"We have a history of running well at the end of the year," added Shane.
In the last seven years, Shane's team has finished either one or two in the country and has finished in the top ten 15 times.
"There are two or three teams that are outstanding," Shane said. "If we run a good team race we could finish in the middle of the top ten."
Along with the women, the men have paved their way to the NCAA Championships this year, with the mind set on one goal and one goal only, to finish in the top four or five in the country.
"It's time to bring the big guns," noted Eyestone referring to the race and not some AK-47 assault rifle. "One guy had us finishing 11th and that's good, because it will fire our guys up."
The men are looking to put an assault on the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course this weekend as they compete in 10K event. Although this will be the only time the men will compete in two consecutive 10K events, they're a team that's not afraid to open it up and see what they can do.
"The main thing for the guys this week has been recovery and getting their minds right,"
Eyestone said. "It's going to take a great day for us to be where we want to be."
The runner to keep your eye on for the men is Josh Rohatinsky. The sophomore has been the leader and front runner for the men and has the chance to compete for the overall title.
"Josh has got a chance to be in the top ten," Eyestone said. "If it comes down the stretch and he's right there in the top ten, he has a chance to win. He's not afraid and he's got tremendous talent."
Others to watch for the men will be Brian Lindsay, Dustin Bybee and Nathan Robison. Robison earned himself his first cross country All-American citation by finishing 29th overall at last year's event. These three athletes along with Rohatinsky have a chance to be All-Americans; an honor that's only given to the top 35 finishers.
As for the women, they've been led by three-time All-American Laura Turner. The senior knows a little bit about winning. As a sophomore in 1999, she helped guide the women to their second cross country national championship and looks to become only the second cross country athlete at BYU to win four All-American citations. The only Cougar to win four All-American cross country awards was Elizabeth Jackson from 1996 to 1999.
"Laura has a great chance to be in the top ten," Shane said. "She's a veteran and knows what to expect at nationals."
Others to watch are Rena Chesser, Heidi Magill and Amber Harper. Each of these athletes has a chance to be an All-American and finish in the top 35.
"Everyone is healthy and is ready to roll," said Shane.
The event begins on Monday, November 22, with the women's 6K race starting at 11:00 a.m. followed by the men's 10K race at 12:15 p.m.