By Ashley Anderson
The women’s cross country team will race in the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn. on Saturday.
The Cougars finished first in both previous races and hope to continue that winning streak.
The team is looking forward to this race to help with its quest to attend nationals.
“We added this meet to our schedule to help us get more criteria points to help us get a chance to go to nationals,” said BYU women’s head coach Patrick Shane.
Two teams from each region are selected to attend nationals, and the region BYU is in is the most competitive. Eighteen other teams are selected based on criteria points. These points are earned by beating the automatically qualifying teams in a previous race.
This weekend’s meet is the first this season where teams earn criteria points that will determine if they will go to nationals.
“Starting this weekend, every meet that we run in can affect our bid for the national championship race,” Shane said.
Last year BYU barely missed the cut for nationals, which has influenced the runners’ attitudes this year. One of the teams objectives for this season is to qualify for nationals and run well there.
“To complete our objective we need to run well this weekend and I think we will,” Shane said.
The team will be taking 12 runners to run in the invitational. The runners traveling with the team are the top seven runners from previous seasons and the top five from the BYU Invitational last week.
The team is relying on senior Morgan Haws, a transfer student from Weber State.
“One thing that is going to make us good is we have one of the best runners, Morgan Haws,” Shane said. “She is a legitimate threat to win this meet individually.”
Besides Haws, Shane acknowledged the overall depth of the team that will help the team succeed.
“Our depth is very good and that is what makes a good cross country team,” Shane said.
The team will race against some of the top teams in the nation, including No. 8 Iowa State and No. 10 Arizona. There are also six other teams who are ranked in the top 30 who will run against BYU.
Shane said he recognizes the importance of this weekend and looks forward to seeing how his team competes against other top teams.
“This is by far the most competitive meet this weekend,” Shane said. “I think we can run with Iowa State and Arizona. We have a chance to go after them and that’s what we plan to do.”