Change is not always a good thing, but switching to the West Coast Conference looks to be a good experience for the BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams.
Last season, the BYU men earned second place at the Mountain West Conference Championships, first in the NCAA Mountain Regional and 17th at the NCAA Championships. The women’s team also finished in second place at their MWC Championships, third at the NCAA Mountain Regional and 19th at the NCAA Championships.
This year, both teams were picked in the coaches’ poll to win the 2010 MWC Cross Country Championships, which could be a good way to enter into the WCC for the 2011 season.
The WCC has been known to have fairly strong cross country programs. There are currently eight cross country teams that compete in the WCC.
The BYU men’s team may have more of a challenge against a few schools in the WCC, especially Portland.
BYU men’s cross country coach Ed Eyestone, who was picked as the NCAA Mountain Region Coach of the Year, said he looks forward to joining the WCC and thinks Portland will be good competition for BYU.
“They have become a national power, at least a top 10 national power, and that’s about where we are,” Eyestone said. “I anticipate having some very good instant rivalry.”
The Portland Pilots have won the WCC Men’s Cross Country Championships the past 31 years in a row.
“[It is] the longest active streak for any cross country program in the country,” a WCC news release said.
Portland was picked to win the WCC championship again this season by the preseason coaches’ poll.
On the women’s side of WCC cross country, San Francisco won its first-ever conference championship last season with four of its runners finishing in the top 10. San Francisco is expected to win again this year, according to the WCC preseason coaches’ poll.
Portland and Loyola Marymount are two other schools that should be tough competition for BYU. Portland has won 19 of 23 conference titles.
Loyola Marymount and San Francisco will be two other competitive schools. Both schools tied for finishing second this season in the coaches’ poll. This is the second year in a row they have tied.