By Nick Newman
Climbing the polls two spots to No. 9, BYU?s men?s cross-country team is set to do battle with the nation?s elite Saturday, Oct. 14, 2006, at the pre-national meet in Terre Haute, Ind.
Seven of the Top 10 and 23 of the top 30 in the rankings, including Stanford, Colorado and Iona, will run in the race that is very important for qualifying for nationals.
Despite the ultra-competitiveness and depth of competition of this week?s race, coach Ed Eyestone is treating the race more like a dress rehearsal for more important upcoming races.
?This is a great opportunity to see the same course that nationals is run on,? Eyestone said. ?Although it would be nice to do well, you wouldn?t trade a great performance here by doing poorly at regionals.?
BYU has done well in past races, with leader Josh Rohatinsky winning top individual honors at the race in Oregon, but Eyestone says the key to this race will be to have everyone else catch up to Rohatinsky.
?We want Josh battling up at the top, of course,? Eyestone said. ?Our real challenge will be to have Chandler [Goodwin] close the gap on Josh and our other guys close the gap on Chandler.?
Rohatinsky agreed with his coach, saying the key to winning is having consistency.
?Of course we?d like to win,? Rohatinsky said. ? The trouble we?ve been having is that we haven?t had all of us running our best on the same day.?
The reasoning for all the importance on a gap is to help the team win by obtaining as few points as possible. But for elite runners like Rohatinsky, it also helps them mentally to run a better race.
?When you?re fighting along with someone else on your team, it?s a lot easier to finish well,? Rohatinsky said. ?When you?re running alone with an opponent for a long time, you know you can beat them anyway, but it helps when you have one of your guys next to you.?
Even though the meet features many powerful teams, No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 2 Arkansas will not compete there. Eyestone said it doesn?t matter at all to him and his team.
?It doesn?t mean that much to me,? Eyestone said. ?There are plenty of other teams ahead of us to beat. This isn?t like football, where you?re more worried about what vot-ers think than how your team com-petes. I?m glad I?m in a sport where championships are decided on the field, not by voters.?