PROVO — Hawaii: a land of beaches, palm trees and tropical drinks.
Except for the BYU women's cross country team. For the Cougars, Hawaii means business.
The women are in the Aloha State this week for the Big Wave Invitational on Saturday, the first big meet of the year. The team dominated in-state competition at last week's BYU Autumn Classic, but coach Patrick Shane said this week's meet should be a little more challenging and will be exactly what the team needs.
"Hawaii is going to be an opportunity to go somewhere different and run against teams we normally don't run against, with a group of young women that need exactly that at this time in the season for their development," Shane said.
Most teams would be thrilled to finish eighth in the nation, but when the BYU women did it last year, there was some disappointment. Hard to imagine, but 17 consecutive conference championships, four national titles and a handful of top-three finishes in the nation have set the bar pretty high.
But despite all of that, Shane said he does not like to remind his team of those expectations. In fact, he doesn't even like to set team goals.
"We don't set goals," Shane said. "Never have. I'm not a believer in setting outcome goals, so we don't do it. We don't talk about winning the conference championship, we don't talk about qualifying to go to nationals, we don't talk about winning a national championship — I've just never believed that's the way to go in our sport."
Shane said he prefers to focus on the short term, like what the team is doing today or this week. Doing that, he said, allows runners to approach the national meet at the end of the year as a chance to see where they are, not to compare themselves to past teams.
Shane, however, has a hard time hiding his excitement about this team.
BYU-Hawaii transfer Chelsea McKell is already setting herself up to be a team leader after winning the Autumn Classic last week. McKell is a two-time national cross country champion at the Division-II level.
The team also has a former All-American, Breanne Sandberg, back from an LDS mission and a strong trio of veteran runners in Amber Harper, Anne Heiner and Heidi Magill. Throw in a couple of freshmen — Amy Fowler and Jocelyn Gardner — who could run their way into the team's top five, and it's easy to see why Shane thinks this is such a strong team.
"I feel like there's a lot of talent and experience up front, then some freshman who are hungry and eager and want to prove themselves that will add to the team and help the synergism there," Shane said. "It's a good team."
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: For the second week in a row, BYU player has been named the MWC Volleyball player of the week.
This week, the honors went to sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Goodman. In two wins last week, Goodman set new personal bests for kills. Against the Idaho State Bengals on Wednesday, Goodman slammed home 16 kills and recorded 10 digs in her first double-double of the year.
Goodman followed that performance with a 20-kill performance against in-state rival Utah State. She also served up two aces, one of them on the final serve to clinch the match in game four.
Last week, the award went to teammate Lindsy Hartsock, a junior middle blocker.
MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: BYU men's volleyball coach Tom Peterson announced 12 new recruits this week, who will join three returning missionaries as new members of the 2006 team.
Andy Pompei, a 5-foot-10 libero from Fairview Park, Ohio, headlines the recruiting class. Pompei was a first-team All-American in high school. He is joined by middle blocker Ryan Oates, of Wheaton, Ill., who was on the second team. Both were ranked in the top 50 recruits in the nation.
Other high school recruits announced were Va'a Futi Tavana of Hawaii, Curtis Cohun of California, and Utah players Quentin Smith, Matt Heyes and Bryan Stewart.
The Cougars will also be bolstered by three overseas recruits: Christopher Underwood and Yamil Perez, both from Puerto Rico, and Rodrigo Gomes, from Brazil.
Jonathan Charette and Joshua Allen are both junior college transfers, while the returning missionaries are Chip Neff, Shawn Mauina and Nick Tauaese.
Utah County connections
Julie Cameron-Meads, sophomore — At Timpview High for the final two years of her prep career, the four-sport letter-winner placed second in the 800 and 1,600 meters at the state 4A championships.
Amber Harper, sophomore — The Orem High standout was a three-year state champion (2000-2002) and won the state track title in the 1,600 (2002) and the 3,200 meters (2002, 2003).
Michelle Lindsay, freshman — At Orem's Timpanogos High, she finished second in state in the 400 meters and 800 meters and third in the 200 meters in track.
Heidi Magill, sophomore — A two-time state runner-up in cross country, the Mountain View High is a four-time state track champion who holds the 5A and 4A state records in the 400 and 800.
Jenna Taylor, sophomore — A two-time region cross country champion at Provo High, she finished sixth and seventh her final two years at the state 4A meet to earn all-state honors.
Ann Marie Thomas, freshman — The all-state cross country runner helped Mountain View to four consecutive region cross country titles and state crowns her sophomore and senior year.