The BYU women's cross country team finished its season with highlights of three first place finishes and a second place standing at the MWC Championships. Junior Angela Wagner was the sole representative at the NCAA Nationals. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
A young BYU team with many talented athletes demonstrated its drive and ambition, beginning the season with three first places finishes as well as earning second place at the Mountain West Conference Championships.
Many of the athletes received All-MWC and All-Region honors. Junior Angela Wagner was honored as two-time MWC Women’s Athlete of the Week, Athlete of the Year, as well as being named to the First All-MWC Team and receiving All-Region honors. Sophomore Anna Sperry and freshman Katy Andrews were also named to the First All-MWC Team. Sophomores Stacy Slight and Cecily Lemmon received Second-Team All-MWC honors.
Despite being unable to regain the MWC Championship title, head coach Patrick Shane noted the team did a great job coming together and learning the importance of executing a race plan.
Although the season had some ups and downs, the Cougars were able to push through and send Wagner to the NCAA National Championships.
“We had a very young team this year,” said Shane. “We didn’t regain the title, but we learned where we were as a team and how to pull together. That lesson will be incredibly beneficial for next year as many of the athletes return.”
2008 Autumn Classic
Anna Sperry led the women’s team in the 5K with a third place finish overall.
“Today was a very good performance,” said BYU women’s cross country head coach Patrick Shane, “both individually and as a team. The first race of the season you never know what to expect, but these girls trained really hard at camp and this summer, and coming here today shows that they know how to race.”
Tallying second for the Cougars was Angela Wagner (4), followed by freshman Katy Andrews (6) and Stacy Slight (8).
Trailing behind BYU’s 35 point first place finish were Nebraska (51 points), Runner's Corner (78 points), USU (79 points), Idaho State (118 points) and UVU (158 points).
Bob Firman Invitational
Setting a course record and placing first overall, Wagner led the BYU women’s cross country team to a first place finish in the 5K.
“The team met my expectations and made big improvements from two weeks ago,” said Shane. “The course was muddy, wet, up and down hills and over some tough terrain; this is what cross country is all about and the girls loved it.”
Wagner was followed by Andrews (2), Slight (5), Jessica Lemmon (8) and Sarah Hansen (10).
The Cougars had a composite score of 25, forcing Idaho State into second place with 56 points and Boise State into third with 74 points.
UC Riverside Invitational
Led by freshman Rachel Lange, the team had another first-place finish, beating out 34 teams.
“This was a solid race,” said Shane. “I asked each athlete to step up and contribute, and they did-in an upset. We were not expected to win this race, but we kept to our race plan and proved to be successful.”
Lange placed third overall followed by Sperry (4), Katie Palmer (9), Stephanie Jensen (13) and Laura Taylor (18).
“I went in confident and relaxed,” said Lange. “We got a good start and had really good positioning, which helped us to all feed off each other. Laura was key for us because we were pretty even with the other teams, but she came up stronger and finished off the win.”
Out of 400 runners, the Cougars came in with 46 points, beating out second-place UC Riverside (55 points) and third place Cal State San Marcos (131 points).
Utah Valley Invitational
Lacey Cramer placed first for the Cougars and eighth overall.
“We’re a young team this year,” said team manager Maggie Chan-Roper. “There were a lot of freshman that ran this race, and I think they performed very well. In a few years we’re going to be experienced and even more solid.”
The team placed fifth overall with 112 points, falling to Weber State, Runner’s Corner, Idaho State and UVU.
Cramer was followed by Sarah Edwards who ran unattached but placed 17th, Hannah Kent-Johnson (24), Ashlee Thomas (29) also ran unattached, Jessica Hauser (31), Whitney Gebert (35) and Emily Dunn (37).
Bill Dellinger Invitational
While the others raced at home, some of the women’s team was away in Oregon, taking on some of the top-ranked teams. It was Wagner who led them to a fifth place finish, beating out long-time rival Colorado State.
“We ran well and were able to execute our race plan,” said Shane. “Our strategy was to match up with CSU and we followed that well. We had a strong performance and are excited to get ready for Pre-Nationals now.”
Wagner placed 12th overall, followed by Sperry (17), Lange (28) Slight (35) and Andrews (38).
No. 1 Oregon,placed first (23 points), No. 9 Arkansas came in second (60 points), followed by Penn. State (107 points), Wake Forest (115 points) and Colorado State came in sixth (177 points).
“We ran well today, but we can still run better,” said Sperry. “It was a fun race and we stayed together, really focusing on the runners we were matching up with. But there is always room for improvement and I’m looking forward to getting there as a team.”
Despite not placing as high as it would have liked, the team ran a strong race led by Wagner.
“The team ran a solid race,” said Shane. “We felt good about beating some good teams; we have some pressure on us now for the Conference Championships but we know where to make improvements and those will happen.”
Wagner placed 43rd overall followed by Sperry (53), Andrews (85), Lange (95) and Slight (96).
“This wasn’t an amazing race for us,” said Wagner. “None of us felt like we raced our best, so we’ll work hard and do better next time.”
In a close battle the Cougars were unable to regain the Championship title, finishing only two points behind New Mexico.
“We ran our best as a team, but we just came up a little short,” said Shane. “I’m proud of our athletes and how they battled and I’m excited for us to run at Regionals.”
Wagner placed first overall, despite recovering from a hamstring injury earlier in the week. Sperry followed in (5), Andrews (6), Slight (9) and Cecily Lemmon (12).
The women fell to first-place New Mexico but defeated Utah (3), Colorado State (4), Wyoming (5), Air Force (6), UNLV (7), TCU (8), eighth, and San Diego State, ninth.
Three Cougars were named First-Team All-MWC: Wagner, Sperry, and Andrews along with teammates Slight, and Cecily Lemmon being named Second-Team All-MWC.
BYU was unable to secure a team placement at Nationals, placing fifth overall (152 points), falling to Texas Tech (42 points), New Mexico (70 points), Northern Arizona (92 points) and Colorado (133 points).
Wagner earned her spot at Nationals to be the sole representative for the BYU women’s team.
“Angela ran a fantastic race, probably her best race of the year,” said Shane. “We didn’t have a great race overall today. We did our best, but we weren’t at our best. Some of the girls weren’t feeling well this week, but we ran our best with where we were mentally and physically.”
Placing fourth overall, Wagner was followed by Andrews (27), Cecily Lemmon (28) Sperry (46) and Slight (47).
Rounding out the remaining BYU team were Jensen (49) and Lange (52).
Wagner, the lone representative for the women’s team, was forced to drop out of the race after the first mile due to a medical condition of exercise-induced asthma.
“Sometimes the weather really messes things up for this condition,” said Shane. “I was sad Angela didn’t get to finish the race, but when you can’t breath it’s kind of hard to keep going. I’m very proud of everything she accomplished this year. She’ll just have to wait one for year for another shot at earning All-American in cross country.”
The team looks forward to having most of its young athletes returning, now with greater experience and an understanding of strengths and weaknesses. Shane believes these will benefit the team and lead to successes.
“We gained a lot of experience this year,” said Shane. “With that underway we can execute better race plans that really play off the talent we have in these athletes. I’m really looking forward to seeing this team excel and continue moving forward.”