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Regional Meet a Success for Cougars
ALBUQUERQUE -- The men's and women's cross country teams came away victorious as they competed in the NCAA Mountain Region meet on Saturday.
The BYU men's overall score of 67 points placed them behind No. 2 Colorado (59) to finish in second place. No. 4 UTEP finished third with 86 points.
"The guys ran very well," said men's head coach Ed Eyestone. "They had a good performance which exceeded my expectations."
Once again Josh Rohatinsky led the Cougars with his stellar performance. With a time of 29:51.6 he had a first place finish, four seconds ahead of North Arizona's Joseph Lomong. Throughout most of the race, Rohatinsky put himself in a leadership position and ran with the front pack. With less than a mile to go he pulled ahead and went on to a comfortable win.
Rounding out the top five for the men was Kyle Perry (10), Jacob Gustafsson (17), Dustin Bybee (18) and Chandler Goodwin (21). These five runners were also awarded All-Region honors.
"What ultimately made the difference for our teams was having our third, fourth and fifth guys finish so close to one another," said Eyestone. "Not only that, but all of our top five runners received All-Region honors. That's what I'm most proud of."
Finishing in the top two provides the team with an automatic bid to the national championships. The team will hold light practices leading up to that event.
"This sets the table quite nicely for next week," said Eyestone. "Our confidence is high and our guys aren't coming away from this meet physically spent. It was an overall great day."
The No. 12 women also had a great day as they placed third behind Colorado and Texas Tech. The second and third place teams were separated by seven points, while only two points decided the third and fourth teams.
"This was probably the closest finish this region has ever had," said women's head coach Patrick Shane. "This particular meet was not a championship meet. It was a qualifying meet. Our objective was to qualify for the national championships."
Junior Kassi Andersen finished third overall with a time of 20:41.6. She led the top five which included Amber Duffin (7), Breanne Sandberg (21), Jenna Jensen (31) and Tawny Bybee (32). Shane was very pleased with the individual performances of his runners.
"Jenna really came through," he said. "She picked up the slack. Amber also had an amazing performance. That was probably the best race of her life."
"I felt strong and went into the race with a good attitude," said Duffin. "As nationals come up I'll just keep doing what I've been doing all season and try not to stress about it."
Sophomore Amy Fowler went down at about the halfway point in the race with an injury. Despite the setback, the team's tremendous depth came through and finished the race.
With the top two teams automatically advancing to the national meet, BYU may receive a bid after their past performances this season are reviewed and considered. Shane is sure his team will race one more time this season.
"We ran very well considering some unforeseen problems," said Shane. "We just need to get healthy to run in nine days at nationals."
Up next both teams will compete in the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 20. The meet will be held in Terre Haute, Ind., hosted by Indiana State University.
Regional Meet Up Next for Cougars
PROVO -- A week after claiming both the men's and women's Mountain West Conference titles for the third year in a row, the BYU cross country teams will travel to Albuquerque, N.M. to compete in the Mountain Region Championship. The University of New Mexico will host the event for the first time since hosting in 2002.
The Mountain Region traditionally boasts many of America's finest distance runners and 2006 is no exception with nine nationally ranked teams among the field, battling for a place in the NCAA Championship race on Nov. 20.
"This is clearly the strongest group of teams our region has ever produced," said women's head coach Patrick Shane. "We will face some challenging competition at this particular meet."
The top two teams at each regional meet automatically qualify for nationals and the first four individuals not on a qualifying team also earn an automatic berth. As many as four teams from the Mountain Region in previous years have earned at-large bids to the NCAA Championships.
The BYU women's team is preparing to compete against eighteen other schools, four of which are ranked in the nation's top-30. No. 9 Colorado and No. 17 Texas Tech will present a challenge to the Cougars.
"Colorado always runs well at the end of the year," said Shane. "They are a talented team with five very good athletes. They are very similar to our team."
It is questionable as to whether or not Amy Fowler will compete in the race this weekend. She is suffering from an inflammation of her foot and has not run for about a week. If Fowler is unable to race, Shane is confident that his team's depth will get the job done.
Kassi Andersen, MWC Female Runner of the Year, is expected to lead the team as she has all season. Currently battling a cold, she is expected to be ready and healthy to compete.
"We have to go down there and perform well," said Shane. "We need quality races out of each athlete. They are all well rested and ready to compete."
The men's team will also face some serious competition on Saturday as it competes against teams including No. 2 Colorado and No. 4 UTEP.
"We have our work cut out for us," said head coach Ed Eyestone. "As long as everyone gets through this week okay we should be healthy and ready to compete."
Senior Josh Rohatinsky is considered one the region's top competitors. Eyestone predicts that he will be very successful.
"Josh will be racing up with the leaders," said Eyestone. "We'll be using the same strategy we used last year. He will run hard for preparation purposes, running within himself, but we don't want to jeopardize his chance at nationals."
Chandler Goodwin and Dustin Bybee will also be expected to give strong performances. Joining them, and coming off a spectacular performance at the MWC Championship, will be sophomore Kyle Perry.
"We are looking to secure third place," said Eyestone. "Going into nationals we need a lot of confidence. We plan to run hard but won't kill ourselves trying to beat the highly ranked schools."
The races will be held at the UNM Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 11. The women's 6K will begin at 10:00 a.m., followed by the men's 10K at 11:00 a.m.