Off to the NCAA Championships
PROVO -- Looking to maintain their reputations as national powerhouse programs, the No. 5 BYU men’s and No. 19 women’s cross country teams will compete at the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Monday, Nov. 23, in Terre Haute, Ind.
The men’s 10K race will begin at approximately 10 a.m. MT while the women’s 6K begins at 11 a.m. MT. Both can be seen on the Versus network or streamed online via NCAA.com. Indiana State University will host the event at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center.
Thirty-one teams were selected to participate in both the men’s and women’s championships. The top two, seven-person teams automatically qualified from each of the nine regions, for a total of 18 teams. Thirteen additional teams were selected at-large.
No. 19 BYU Women’s Cross Country
The four-time national champion women’s team is excited for the opportunity to return to the national championship after failing to qualify as a team in 2008. The Cougars earned the bid following its third-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Regional and earned enough at-large points during the course of the season to get in.
“It’s an honor to make it to nationals and we are thrilled with the opportunity,” said BYU women’s cross country head coach Patrick Shane. “We’re looking forward to the challenge and to see how good we really are on a national level.”
Led by junior MWC Athlete of the Year Cecily Lemmon-Lew, the team will travel with Angela Wagner, Katy Andrews, Nicole Nielsen, Rachel Lange, Sarah Edwards and Whitney McDonald along with alternates Ashlee Thomas and Sarah Yingling. McDonald will make her 2009 debut as she has sat out most of the season with an injury.
“It’s important that the girls get out quickly right from the beginning because there are so many runners,” said assistant coach Chris Shane. “They have trained hard to do well and finish the season strong. If they run together, we have a good chance of doing very well at this meet.”
Washington, Villanova, Princeton, Oregon, Florida and Colorado are the nation’s highest ranked programs going into the national championships.
No. 5 BYU Men’s Cross Country
The BYU men’s team is headed to its 11th straight NCAA Championship after earning an automatic bid from their first-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Regional. With the strong regional mark, the Cougars shot back up to a No. 5 national ranking from the No. 14 spot.
BYU came in ninth place at the 2008 Championships and hope to improve on that mark in this year’s event.
“The field of runners will be tough as always and we’ll need to do as well as we did at regionals if we’re going to attain our goal of being a top-four program,” said BYU men’s head coach Ed Eyestone. “The course itself is very tough with a lot of hills, so we’ll need to be at full strength and completely healthy in order to perform as we’d like.”
Sophomore Miles Batty is expected to once again lead the charge for the Cougars with Richard Nelson, Tommy Gruenewald, Nate Ogden, Brandon Hebbert, Alden Bahr and Ryan Merriman following close behind.
Stanford, Oklahoma State, Alabama, and Portland are expected to compete with the Cougars for the national championship while Colorado, William and Mary, Oregon and Syracuse are also highly ranked going into the event.
“If we run together and perform to the best of our ability, we might find ourselves on the podium after the meet,” Eyestone said.