PROVO, Utah – The NCAA National Cross Country Championships aren't until next month, but the No. 3 BYU men's cross-country team will get a taste of the championship course Saturday at the Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville, Ky.
"In a way, it's kind of a dress rehearsal for nationals," head coach Ed Eyestone said. "We're able to come run on the course, train on it for a few days and gain experience. It's kind of an information gathering opportunity for us in a high intense race situation."
Eyestone also said the race is important because it will help the Cougars move up in the rankings and give them the points necessary to secure a spot at the national championships.
"There are going to be some good teams at the race," Eyestone said. "So it allows us an opportunity to see how good we can be against some of the better teams in the country."
Ten teams ranked in the top 30 will be competing in Louisville on Saturday, including No. 7 Colorado and No. 9 Tulsa.
"This is the time of year where having a solid and deep team pays off," Eyestone said. "We're at full strength and ready to give it a good race."
Junior co-captain Jared Ward is expected to battle up front for the Cougars, with an eye to take one of the top three spots. In two races this year, Ward has finished first or second overall. BYU's true strength, however, lies in the fact that its second to seventh runners have been consistent and nearly interchangeable.
"What we want is good compression between our second and seventh runners," Eyestone said. "We don't want that gap to be more than 15 or 20 seconds max. If we can keep it close like that then we'll have a good chance to win the meet."
Six other BYU runners will also run in the unseeded race at the meet. Eyestone said he will use that race to help determine his nine-man roster for the conference championships next month.
The seeded men's race begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT, and the unseeded race will start at 10:30 a.m. EDT.
Mason Porter is a Sports Information Director for BYU Athletic Communications. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.