Cougar Women Set to defend MWC Title

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    By Nick Newman

    Ever since the inception of the Mountain West Conference, BYU?s women?s cross-country team has not lost a conference title. This Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006, in Salt Lake, the No. 11 Cougars look to defend that streak of conference wins.

    Coach Patrick Shane says that although this is one of the most powerful teams he?s ever had, BYU will be challenged this week, mostly by a Colorado State team that beat BYU on its own course earlier this season.

    ?For the first time ever, we?ll be challenged,? Shane said. ?CSU beat us without their best runner, but we didn?t have ours either. Teams tend to run a little bit better when they think they have a chance to win.?

    BYU starts off the championship races running its top nine for only the second time all year. Despite that, Shane said he is pleased with the depth on the team and how the team has come together at the right time.

    ?The team has a very interesting profile this year,? Shane said. ?Kassi Andersen is the best runner I have had at BYU?ever. She?s capable of winning any race she runs in. After that, my next three are capable of being in the top five this week. The rest of the girls running are very capable of being our fifth runner. Our depth has emerged right on time.?

    Leading the pack will be Andersen, followed by Sandberg, Amber Duffin, and Amy Fowler.

    Three of the runners trying to catch Andersen are Amber Duffin, Amy Fowler and Breanne Sandberg, a two-time All-American from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Sandberg said the team is not taking anyone lightly, despite the history of success in the conference meet.

    ?We want to run a team-oriented race,? Sandberg said. ?We know nothing?s going to be easy. We have a strong team, and we want to go out there and prove it. It?s not going to be a cakewalk.?

    Shane said that most teams in the conference aren?t strong enough to compete, but there are some good individuals to challenge Andersen for conference title. He also said it will be difficult in the race for many of his girls to garner all-conference honors, but is confident his team will finish fine.

    ?I want Kassi to run away from everyone and put them in her rear view mirror. She can do that any way she wants. The rest of them need to try to finish in the top seven and run together. I?ve run the girls hard this week, and I wouldn?t bet against us.?

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