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The key to doing well at the NCAA Cross Country Championships is putting as little effort as possible into qualifying for the meet during regionals, which comes nine days earlier.
Less effort means less stress in recovering during a short turnaround for the most important meet.
BYU's men and the Weber State women turned that trick at the Mountain Region Championships in Fort Collins, Colo. The top two teams in each division qualified for the final, which takes place Saturday at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. The competition begins at 10 a.m. (MT).
For the first time in their successful history, the 13th-ranked Wildcat women won the regional meet, while the Cougar men, ranked 7th, placed second behind No. 18 Northern Arizona.
"We were just really excited," said WSU's junior Amber Henry, the two-time Big Sky Champion who finished third overall on the 6K course at 20 minutes, 18.4 seconds. "We'll take care of our wounds, just take care of ourselves. That's what separates the good teams from the better teams right now."
Jared Ward, BYU's junior captain, placed third overall on the 10K course with a time of 30:06.3. The Cougars started slowly, staying in a pack until the final lap.
"We wanted to advance as a team," Ward said. "We don't want to kill ourselves....Our goal at the regional meet is to advance as easily as you can."
Although runners from WSU and BYU all qualified, other runners from Utah schools did well enough at regionals to claim a spot at nationals, including Utah Ute Amanda Mergaert, who finished fourth. She will compete in her third consecutive NCAA Championship.
Utah Valley's Joshua McCabe finished 11th to qualify for his second championship, while Southern Utah's Nate Jewkes will also travel to Kentucky, thanks to his eighth-place individual finish.
BYU runners include Rex Shields, Jason Witt and Conner Peloquin, Curtis Carr and Erik Harris.
Weber State is represented by Sarah Callister, Taylor Thornley, Jamie Stokes, Laken Hintze, Kayla Blackford and Suzanna Cressall.
"We ran a great race and I'm really pleased with our whole team's performance," said WSU coach Paul Pilkington, 2012 Big Sky Coach of the Year. It's a great accomplishment to win the region title. Now we will gear up for the NCAA meet."