Motivated Cougars Have Big Day at Regionals
ALBUQUERQUE -- Not satisfied with second-place finishes from the conference meet Oct. 31, the BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams came up big at the NCAA Mountain Regional as the men took first place and the women arrived in third.
With their performances, both teams will advance to run at the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.
The No. 14 men’s team scored 54 points in a 10K event to overcome No. 5 Colorado (55), No. 12 New Mexico (77) and No. 4 Northern Arizona (86) among others to earn the victory in a tough NCAA Mountain region.
“It was a spectacular outing for us today,” said BYU men’s cross country head coach Ed Eyestone. “We beat some very good, quality programs and didn’t run ourselves into the ground. I think we were motivated to come back into competition and show that we can run on a national level.”
Sophomore Miles Batty once again led the Cougars as he finished in second place in 30:03.5. Northern Arizona runner David McNeill won the race soundly in 29:51. Batty was able to beat New Mexico’s Jacob Kirwa, the Mountain West Conference victor, by 14 seconds. The three emerged from the crowd early on, but Kirwa slowly faltered and McNeill managed to get away from Batty with three quarters of a mile left.
Seniors Richard Nelson and Brandon Hebbert proved their leadership with ninth and 12th-place finishes, respectively, before sophomore Tommy Gruenewald and junior Nate Ogden solidified the one-point victory by arriving in their respective 15th and 16th positions.
Alden Bahr (20th) and Ryan Merriman (43rd) also competed well for the Cougars.
“I’m very proud of our guys to come out and run hard,” Eyestone said. “More importantly, we feel that we still have some energy and that we can have a repeat performance at nationals.”
No. 22 BYU women
The No. 22 BYU women also had a positive experience in Albuquerque to take third place in a very tough field. The Cougars scored 114 points and lost only to No. 6 Colorado (48) and No. 8 Texas Tech (53), but overcame MWC champion No. 20 New Mexico (120) and No. 32 UTEP (116), among others.
“We feel very good about the race,” said BYU women’s cross country head coach Patrick Shane. “The girls ran great and we showed why we’re a top program.”
BYU junior Cecily Lemmon-Lew came in second place overall with a 6K time of 20:41.1 behind arguably the country’s top runner, Colorado’s Jenny Barringer (20:29). Sophomore Katy Andrews also had a good showing with a 12th-place finish and senior Angela Wagner arrived third for the team in 18th place.
“All of us feel good about our performance and that we were ‘with it’ emotionally to do well,” Lemmon-Lew said. “We had a lot of fun out there and ran well as a team. Personally, it was a good opportunity for me to see where I am against some of the country’s best runners. I think we showed that we belong and will do well at nationals.”
Freshman Nicole Nielsen (34) and redshirt freshman Sarah Edwards (48) scored the Cougars’ remaining points. Sophomore Rachel Lange and redshirt freshman Ashlee Thomas also had strong performances to contribute to the team.
“Cecily hung in there with the leaders and Katy had a phenomenal race,” Shane said. “Wagner was also fantastic and I think our team was ready to go out and compete. When we’re doing well, we can compete with a lot of teams. We hope to earn a top-20 finish at nationals.”
Coach Shane plans to use junior Whitney McDonald, who has sat out all of the races this season with an injury but has been cleared to compete in Terre Haute on Monday, Nov. 23.
The 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships can be seen on Versus.
Regionals on the Horizon
PROVO -- Eager for another competition following second-place performances at the Mountain West Conference Championships two weeks ago, the men’s and women’s cross country teams are prepared for the NCAA Mountain Regional on Saturday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The men’s 10K race will be first at 10:45 a.m. MT while the women’s 6K will begin at noon. Both will take place at the University of New Mexico Golf Course.
BYU’s No. 22 women’s team will square off with the likes of No. 6 Colorado, No. 8 Texas Tech, and No. 20 New Mexico along with Northern Arizona, UTEP, Colorado State and Southern Utah.
“We’re looking forward to a tough competition,” said BYU women’s cross country head coach Patrick Shane. “We hope to run well enough to advance to nationals, but we’ll have our work cut out for us. With two very good top-8 teams and New Mexico who just beat us, we need to run together in order to advance.”
The top two schools automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will take place Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind. With the strength of the teams in the Mountain region and points earned during the season, it is anticipated that the top three or four teams will advance.
Cecily Lemmon-Lew, Angela Wagner, Katy Andrews, Nicole Nielsen, Rachel Lange, and Ashlee Thomas will compete while a seventh runner is yet to be determined.
“Our goal is to punch our ticket to nationals by earning one of the top spots at this meet then get healthy in time for nationals,” Shane said.
The No. 14 BYU men’s team will face No. 4 Northern Arizona, No. 5 Colorado and No. 12 New Mexico along with Utah State and UTEP, among others.
“We need to run a solid race because the teams ranked ahead of us are very stong,” said BYU men’s cross country head coach Ed Eyestone. “We’ll try to put together a good race and at the same time not run ourselves into the ground. I’ll be happy with a second or third-place finish so we can still accomplish our goal of competing at nationals.”
Coach Eyestone believes the top four finishers will advance to nationals due to their overall strength and performances from the season.
Miles Batty, Richard Nelson, Tommy Gruenewald, Nate Ogden, Brandon Hebbert, Alden Bahr and Ryan Merriman will compete for the team.
“We hope to qualify and build confidence for nationals,” Eyestone said.