Harper Earns Spot on US National Team

Freshman Amber Harper runs to a spot on the US National Team.

Indianapolis (Feb. 10, 2004) -- BYU Freshman Amber Harper, native of Orem, Utah, finished 3rd in the USA Track and Field Cross Country Junior Women 6K Championships to earn a spot on our US Junior National Cross Country Team.

Harper will be one of 6 junior women athletes that will represent the United States at the 32nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Brussels, Belgium.

The Junior Women's 6 kilometer race will be run on Saturday March 20th.

In the 6K race Harper finished 3rd to UCLA's Alison Costello and Stanford's Kathleen Trotter.

"I just felt good," said Harper. "I have not had a good race in quite a long time. This is my kind of weather, being from Utah. I like the cold. I learned a lot from last year. I was an alternate, and I was way disappointed that I didn't make the team. I've gotten a lot tougher, and I learned that I needed to have more strength, especially after running in the mud in Houston."

BYU women's head cross country coach Patrick Shane said that Harper's race went out really fast but was run very smart as she held back in the second group until the last 1000 meters.

"This is the highest finish we have ever had for a BYU athlete at the USATF XC Nationals," Shane said. "Her confidence has really improved since the start of the year. The transition from high school to college is extremely difficult. We usually red-shirt freshmen because of that. But competing at the NCAA nationals really helped her.

"This opportunity to run in a World Championships wearing a US uniform and representing her country is something that few athletes get a chance to do. She has a chance to rub shoulders with the best in the world, athletes that will be Olympians someday. To represent herself, her family, our university and the church is a great opportunity."

Harper's mother, former BYU athlete, Cheryl (Howlett) Harper, finished second in the Women's Masters 6K race at the same competition.

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