By Shilo Goodson
The BYU men”s and women”s cross country teams are among the elite this season, both being ranked among the Top 10 in the nation.
Last week, FinishLynx released its Top 25 poll, ranking the women”s team No. 3 in the nation, with defending national champion Stanford taking the No. 1 ranking and Providence at No. 2. The BYU men”s cross country team is ranked No. 9 in a poll released by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association.
BYU is among only five schools that have both their men and women”s cross country teams ranked in the Top 10 in the nation. Stanford, North Carolina State, Colorado and Michigan are the other schools in the nation that have both programs ranked in the Top 10.
“It”s too early to tell how good we are,” BYU women”s cross country coach Patrick Shane said. “I can go on record saying now that Stanford is so much better than everybody else talent-wise. Even with having some serious problems, they still should win the national championship. They are going to have to show up and prove it. No one”s going to mail them the trophy, but they”re far and away better than anybody else.”
If the rankings hold strong, this will be another year where the Cougars prove they have talent beyond the average college cross country athlete.
Since 2000, the men”s cross country team has not placed lower than 23rd in the nation, but if they are able to finish the season in the No. 9 spot, as they are ranked right now, it will be their best finish since their second-place finish nationally in 1993.
The women”s cross country team has been among the top four nationally since 1995, and if the rankings hold true, the Cougars will not break that record.
The women will have an unanticipated obstacle in their way this year as they work toward the national championship.
Earlier in the season, the Cougars lost their No. 1 runner, Kassi Andersen, when she was injured in a bike accident that left her out of competition for the next six to eight months. Shane said he feels this tragedy will draw the team closer together, though.
“It [losing their No. 1 runner] tends to bring a team closer together, it opens a door, and there”s a void there, and that void needs to be filled,” he said. “We need to have somebody step up or a few people step up and close ranks, and I don”t know that anybody is going to replace our number No. 1 runner, but I think we”re going to have people who will perform because of what happened, because of the team”s needs. We”ll pull together, and it will strengthen us.”
Both the men”s and women”s cross country teams will be able to show their true skills this Friday as they head off to their first non-home meets of the season.