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."