The BYU cross-country teams will race against some of the top teams in the nation at the Pre-Nationals Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin, on Saturday.
The format of this year’s Pre-National meet will split teams into either the Cardinal or White sections. The No. 2 BYU men’s team is seeded in the men’s White division, along with No. 3 Portland, No. 6 Syracuse, No. 11 Washington, No. 15 Air Force, No. 19 Purdue, No. 21 Washington State, No. 23 Indiana and No. 25 UCLA.
The No. 9 BYU women’s team will race against four other top-10 teams in the women’s Cardinal section. The Cougars' ranked competition will be No. 1 Colorado, No. 4 Oregon, No. 7 Arkansas, No. 10 North Carolina State, No. 12 Indiana, No. 15 Portland, No. 16 Ole Miss and No. 23 Minnesota.
“We’ve known that Pre-Nats is going to be our true test,” BYU associate head women’s coach Diljeet Taylor said. “This will be an opportunity to preview the competition and course ahead of nationals. The girls know that the competition is going to be stiff.”
The Cougars took seventh last season at Pre-Nationals and head into this year’s meet on a three-meet winning streak. All-American Erica Birk-Jarvis has taken first place in two meets this season, and Taylor expects the senior to continue to lead the way for BYU.
Birk-Jarvis will race with teammates Anna Camp, Madelyn Dickson, Aubrey Frentheway, Olivia Hoj, McKenna Lee and Courtney Wayment, with Whittni Orton being a race-day decision.
“Our first goal is to race well enough to pick up points again for nationals,” Taylor said. “However, the main things we’ll be working on are getting comfortable with the course and working together as a team to close the gap between runners.”
BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said the men's team has been preparing for this race like the other races.
“We’ve been approaching it like another day at the office,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “At this point of the season, this will be the most important and competitive meet we’ve faced yet. We haven’t had a meet where we’ve had to dig down and check the character of the team.”
All-American Rory Linkletter won the individual title at the 2017 Pre-Nationals, leading the men’s team to a first-place finish. The Cougars have cruised to win all three meets of the 2018 season and have had a different runner take first in each race.
BYU will suit up Jacob Heslington, Zachry Jacklin, Linkletter, Conner Mantz, Connor McMillan, Clayson Shumway and Clayton Young, while Danny Carney will be a race-day decision.Comment on this story
“I want to see us have a good performance and battle to the finish,” Eyestone said. “I want us to have a better start after not doing as well as I would’ve hoped at Notre Dame. So much of the national meet is getting out quick and establishing yourself in the pack.”
The Pre-National Invitational will be hosted at Wisconsin’s Thomas Zimmer Championship Course on Saturday, Oct. 11. The women’s team will race first at 10 a.m CDT, followed by the men’s team at 12:15 p.m. The meet will be streamed live on FloTrack.org, and live stats can be found on rtstp.com. Follow the BYU cross-country Instagram and Twitter accounts for live updates on the race.