The men’s and women’s cross country teams are expected to be top competitors in the West Coast Conference this year.
The men are ranked first in the preseason poll with Alden Bahr, Miles Batty and Jared Ward on the 2011 WCC preseason All-Conference team. The women are ranked second with Katy Andrews, Sarah Edwards and Katie Palmer on the preseason All-Conference team.
The men narrowly outranked the University of Portland, a school that has been WCC conference champions for 32 consecutive seasons.
Men’s head coach Ed Eyestone said he is honored to start the season off in first place.
“It was a very close vote and it is flattering they think we can beat Portland,” Eyestone said.
Eyestone said he knows going into the WCC this year will still create challenges for the team.
“We recognize with the West Coast Conference we have a team in Portland who is as strong as any opponent in the Mountain West Conference,” Eyestone said. “We go into practice trying to maximize our potential.”
Eyestone said he is also excited to present a challenge to Portland and hopefully beat them.
“They have been fortunate because they have been so much better than the next team,” Eyestone said. “They won’t have that luxury this year.”
Batty said he was happy to be selected to the All-Conference team.
“It’s good knowing they think I am a good runner,” Batty said. “It sets the stage for this season.”
Both BYU and Portland are the the only teams in the WCC ranked by the NCAA. BYU is currently ranked No. 15 by the NCAA.
The women are closely behind the University of San Francisco, a school that has won the conference championship the past two years.
Women’s head coach Patrick Shane said he is hoping the team can show the talent they have this season and finish in first place.
“We don’t feel like we are the second best team and we are looking forward to proving everyone wrong,” Shane said. “I like the role of the underdog. We have a great traditions and an amazing team this year.”
Shane said he is also looking forward to the opportunity to compete in the WCC for the first time this season.
“We are lucky to join a conference with strong teams,” Shane said. “The competition is new and different. It’s exciting to go to new new place and have a nice change.”
Although Andrews said she is excited about being named to the conference team, she also said it adds pressure to do good this year.
“Going into a new conference it is exciting,” Andrews said. “But there is a bit of pressure and a goal to work to and live up to the best you can.”
The BYU women’s team is the only WCC team ranked by the NCAA. They are currently ranked No. 23.