By AmyAnn Rupp
The BYU cross country teams are running Saturday Oct. 19 on the Terra Haute, Ind. course. It”s the same course where the Cougars hope to compete for the national title in the National Championships in six weeks.
However, in lining up for this weekend, the Cougars are a little unsure of who will run where and what their team will look like in November at the National Championships.
“We do not have quite everyone lined up like we would like,” head coach Patrick Shane said.
This Saturday”s Asics/Pacesetter Pre-Nationals Meet will allow the team to run on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in a meet designed to prepare the women for six weeks from now at the 2002 NCAA Championships.
Although Shane will be running his strongest team of the season Saturday, he still will not be running returning All-American Lindsey Thompson and possibly All-American Laura Heiner.
“Lindsey is still nursing a lower leg injury that we are being kind of careful with,” Shane said. “We are taking Laura Heiner to run the course, but we are hoping to redshirt her. So maybe we will run her and maybe we won”t, it all depends on how we feel Saturday.”
Shane will be running redshirt freshman Kassi Andersen, junior Michaela Mannova, senior Jessie Kindschi in her season opener, senior Nan Kennard, senior Katie Martin and freshman Breanne Sandberg.
“Coach is definitely putting our top runners together to make the team,” Andersen said. “I think that it will show a lot of our strength. It will show more of what our future will bring and I am excited because we are looking really good, especially our top six.”
Although each team is allowed to run seven runners in Pre-Nationals, Shane said he is thinking of only running six this weekend.
“If we only run six in the blue race then we are cutting it close. You never want to not finish five because then you don”t score and we forfeit. So it is still up in the air, but we will know by 11 a.m. when we race what is going on, that is for sure.”
The women”s 6K race includes 97 teams. Because so many teams are competing the seeded teams will be divided evenly and half will compete, in the blue, half in the white race.
The Cougars will run in the blue race against No. 4 University of Colorado, No. 5 Georgetown University, No. 9 University of Wisconsin, No. 11 Duke University, No. 14 University of North Carolina and No. 15 Boston College.
“It is unfortunate that we won”t get to run against No. 2 Stanford,” Shane said. “But there still will be good runners there and a lot of competition. Colorado and Georgetown are the two big ones and on paper they are supposed to be really good.”
Despite the uncertainty of Saturday”s lineup, the team is hoping to run well individually and as a team, Shane said.
“We are hoping to have a good race staying out of trouble at the start and racing well throughout,” Shane said. “I am going to give them a race strategy that is designed to win the race. We know Georgetown will have all their top people in the line up, which they didn”t last time we met at the Great American, and Colorado will have their top in also. I can”t say what will happen but if we are able to execute that race strategy then I like our chances.”
This pre-national meet will tell Shane exactly who is ready for Nationals right now, he said.
“We have six weeks to go until Nationals,” Shane said. “If you don”t get injured or sick or hurt then you will be strong. It is definitely going to separate the strong team from those who are not.”
The Cougars continue to be ranked No. 1 in the NCAA polls; however, Shane said that their ranking has not created much pressure for him or the team.
“I don”t mention it to them, I don”t post it anywhere, it just never comes up, so I don”t think it has caused any pressure other than they know someone said we are ranked number one,” Shane said. “If anything it gives us confidence to know that we have another great team.”
The Cougars have been preparing for this meet since their last major race three weeks ago at the Great American Cross Country Invitational.
“We have worked hare, had great workouts, in fact some of the best ever, and it has prepared them,” Shane said. “They have done the work. Training is a predictor of how you are going to perform and they are confident because they know that their training has gone well. We will go out on automatic pilot from here on out.”