TERRE HAUTE -- Strongly considered among the nation’s top running programs, the BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams had strong finishes to the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships hosted by Indiana State University.
The No. 5 BYU men’s team came in 17th place overall in the men’s 10K race while the No. 19 women fittingly arrived in 19th place in the women’s 6K.
“We are happy to have finished among the nation’s top 20 programs,” said BYU women’s cross country head coach Patrick Shane. “I’m proud of the effort our team displayed to pull off a solid race with all of the competition involved. It was one of our goals, especially with a young team, to do this well to represent the university and our program on a national level.”
Junior Cecily Lemmon-Lew led the Cougars with a 10th-place finish overall in a field of 216 runners with a 6K time of 20:12. Her top-30 finish in the race allowed her to garner NCAA All-America honors.
“It feels good to perform well at this type of race with so many good runners,” Lemmon-Lew said. “I was excited that the team did well and that we performed like this in a tough race. Everyone stepped up and had fun, so we’re happy we did better than we have the last three years.”
Running in her last collegiate cross country race, senior Angela Wagner rose to the occasion, coming in 83rd place in 21:19. Freshman Nicole Nielsen arrived in 96th overall, while Rachel Lange (131) and Katy Andrews (150) also performed well. Sarah Edwards and Whitney McDonald had solid finishes to round up the roster for the Cougars.
“I’m very pleased with the team today and thought that they gave it their best shot,” Shane said. “Cecily’s deserves her All-America status and everyone performed well to get the job done.”
No. 2 Villanova won the team championship with 86 points followed by No. 8 Florida State (133) and No. 1 Washington (188). Illinois’ Angela Bizzarri won the individual championship with a time of 19:46. Mountain West foe New Mexico came in 13th place.
No. 5 BYU Men’s Team
Having finished ninth place at the 2008 national championship, the BYU men’s team was hoping for another top-10 finish but fell just short of the goal by coming in 17th place overall with 468 points.
“It wasn’t our best day but I think that overall our guys gave it their best effort and went hard at it to finish strong,” said BYU men’s cross country head coach Ed Eyestone. “Like everyone, our team has been battling injuries and illnesses the past few weeks and I think it caught up to a few of the guys. We’re still content with a top-20 performance but were hoping for a little bit more.”
Senior Richard Nelson displayed leadership by crossing the finish line first for the team in 50th place overall with a 10K time of 30:34. Sophomore Tommy Gruenewald came in 54th place just seconds later followed by Nate Ogden (87), Miles Batty (137) and Brandon Hebbert (140). Ryan Merriman and Alden Bahr also performed well for the team.
“Nelson gave a great effort today and really stepped up for us,” Eyestone said. “Hebbert’s been battling injuries for a little while now and hobbled to the finish line and Batty was sick on and off this past week. Our guys ran hard and we’re pleased with a top-20 performance at a national competition.”
No. 2 Oklahoma State won the team championship with 127 points followed by No.8 Oregon (143) and No. 3 Alabama (173). Liberty’s Sam Chelanga broke a course record to finish with a time of 28:41, 25 seconds ahead of Northern Arizona’s David McNeill, the Mountain Regional champion. MWC foe New Mexico finished in eighth place.