By AmyAnn Rupp
The BYU women”s cross country team had a perfect finish at the MWC championships winning their fourth straight conference title at East Bay Golf Course in Provo.
“I couldn”t be happier,” said coach Patrick Shane. “I feel like they ran their hearts out and deserve all the awards that they received.”
Earning the Cougars a perfect score was first place finisher Andersen, second place Michaela Mannova (20:56.6), third place Katie Martin (21:06.2), fourth place Jamie Cottle (21:28.9), and fifth place Nan Evans Kennard (21:32.2).
Also running for the Cougars was sixth place Breanne Sandberg (21:33.3), eighth place Jessie Kindschi (21:44.1), 12th place Amy Bair (22:01.5) and 14th place Lisa Antonelli (22:06.6).
“Our top two runners were expected,” Shane said. “But the biggest surprise was two huge breakthroughs by Katie Martin and Jamie Cottle.
“Katie Martin, running third for us, a close third, had the best race of her life, ever. Jamie Cottle had a career day. She hadn”t been running in our top seven and all of a sudden, she is one of our top runners. When you have people like Katie Martin and Jamie Cottle come up that way it is just really encouraging.”
Contributing to the girl”s peak performance they said was running on their home course.
“Maybe being at home, being really relaxed was the difference,” Cottle said. I was able to go to class and not think about the race all day. It was nice and now it makes it fun to be here.”
Nan Evans Kennard also felt the fans contributed to the race.
“It was exciting to run with the fans supporting us so much,” Kennard said. “Running through this huge crowd of people I know was so fun.”
Shane said there is nothing better than the home team advantage because 5000 people are out there cheering mostly for you.
Running together in a pack also helped the Cougars to sweep the top five spots.
“Our race strategy was a little different,” Andersen said. “We ran together more as a team working our way up.”
By running together as a team, it helped the top runners to pull the rest along with them.
“We all ran together and it was great,” Kennard said. “It gives me a lot of confidence that I can run with my teammates and stay with them and makes me excited because we are so close together.”
Andersen said they made it more of a team race so they could get practice before they have more competitions.
“Running in a pack helps us to work together and trust each other more,” Andersen said. “Our whole goal was to work together and stay together.”
The BYU women took the lead early in the race and maintained it through out the entire race, running virtually on their own the entire race.
“It wasn”t as hard of a race I would say compared to the next ones, but it was good,” Andersen said.
The biggest competition for the Cougars was between their own team in the final stretch of the 6K course. Andersen barely pulled ahead of Mannova to win the championship.
“She is stronger, she is faster, and she is a phenomenal runner,” Mannova said. “We work out all together and she is always ten seconds ahead of me, so I expected her to win.”
Friday”s race did prepare the Cougars for their last two races, NCAA Mountain Regionals and NCAA Championships.
“I need to keep doing the things coach told us,” Sandberg said. “But I think we are all ready to go.”
Senior Jessie Kindschi who raced for the second time this season said that the team did amazing Friday and is optimistic going into nationals.
“My motivation for today was to run at nationals,” Cottle said. “Coach pulled me over at practice the other day and told me that he had tons of confidence in me and told me that I was totally in the top seven, those going to Nationals. I just wanted to make the top seven for nationals.”
Shane said he feels very good about where the team is right now, but said we just have to get healthy now and stay that way all the way through.
“I wish we could bottle up how we did today and save it for nationals,” Shane said.
While the women”s team swept the top five spots, a sixth-consecutive first-place finish by sophomore Kip Kangogo led the men”s team to its fourth-consecutive championship Saturday.
The tenth-ranked Cougars finished with 37 points, edging out No. 14 Colorado State by five points.
BYU”s top-five finishers placed first, (Kangogo 24:16), fourth, (so. Matt Adams, 24:43), seventh, (sr. Lewis Jones, 24:47), twelfth, (jr. Steve Barrus, 24:56), and thirteenth, (so. Nathan Robison, 24:57).
“I think the guys ran an inspiring race,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. “I was really impressed with the grouping of the guys.”
Kangogo ran at the front of the pack for the first portion of the race before gradually pulling away from the rest of the field, finishing 21 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, CSU junior Austin Vigil.
“I was just trying to run at a constant pace,” Kangogo said. “I just wanted to be steady.”
Over the course of the season, Kangogo”s “constant pace” has proved to be too much for the competition.
All five of the Cougars” top finishers ran strong races for the Cougars.
Robison said Adams”s strong finish over the last 400 meters was what propelled the Cougars to victory.
“He”s the one who saved us,” Robison said. “He passed three CSU guys in about the last 400 meters of the race.”
As a team, the Cougars came through with their best race of the season Saturday.
“This was our best race this season by far,” Robison said. “Everybody came together and ran their best races today.”
Robison said Kangogo has been impressive in every race this season, but there hadn”t been a meet in which the whole team performed to the best of its ability.
The Cougars swept top honors at the rewards ceremony held after the men”s 8k race.
Kangogo was named the MWC Runner of the Year and head coach Ed Eyestone was named MWC Coach of the Year.
“I”m pleased with the award,” Eyestone said. “I don”t think about it too much though. I focus more on how well the guys run.”
Three Cougars were named to the First-Team All-MWC Team, sophomores Kangogo, and Matt Adams, and senior Lewis Jones.
Barrus, Robison, and senior Andy Carman were Second-Team All-MWC selections.
“This was my best performance at Conference,” Robison said. “I don”t even remember how I did my freshman year.”
The Cougars have one more race before the NCAA National Meet on Nov. 25, the NCAA Mountain Regional Meet in Albuquerque, NM, Nov. 16.
“For us to place in the top ten at Nationals we need to do exactly what we did on Saturday,” Eyestone said.