The 2009 BYU women's cross country team enjoyed a successful season with multiple individual honors en route to a No. 19 national ranking. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Steeped in tradition with four national championships and multiple conference championships, the BYU women’s cross country team kept the pride of the program strong as they once again had a top-20 national finish and earned several individual honors throughout the year.
The Cougars finished the 2009 season ranked No. 19 in the country following a 19th-place mark at the NCAA Championships. BYU also finished in second place at the Mountain West Conference Championships and third place at the NCAA Mountain Regional along with several first-place marks in other events.
“We were very solid in the championship races to end the season and overall it was a successful year for us,” said BYU women’s cross country head coach Patrick Shane. “I felt that we gave it our all in every race and that the girls performed to the best of their ability. It was an achievement for us to finish the year ranked No. 19 in the country - I am very proud of this team.”
Several individual honors were achieved throughout the year that marked some of the accomplishments of the 2009 season. At the MWC Championships, junior Cecily Lemmon-Lew was named as the league's Female Athlete of the Year and was given All-MWC First Team honors following her first-place finish at the race. She paced the 6K field in 20:47, over 20 seconds ahead of the second-place runner to lead the team to a second-place finish, falling only to nationally ranked New Mexico.
Sophomore Katy Andrews also performed well to earn All-MWC First Team as she finished the race in sixth place overall. Senior Angela Wagner and freshman Nicole Nielsen achieved All-MWC Second Team honors after their respective 10th and 11th-place finishes. Nielsen was given the conference Freshman of the Year award as she was the first freshman in the field to cross the finish line.
Success continued at the NCAA Mountain Regional, where Lew, Andrews and Wagner earned All-Region honors after their performances at the meet. Lew arrived in second place, while Andrews came in 12th place and Wagner in 18th place.
“I thought that the regional race was the peak of our season where everyone regrouped from the conference meet and got the job done,” Shane said. “They seemed to give an extra effort and ran their hearts out. We also did well enough to qualify for nationals, which was one of our goals for the year.”
At the NCAA Championships, Lew received All-America status following her 10th-place finish at the national event as she crossed the finish line in 20:12, her best 6K time of the season and BYU career.
Lew was named the MWC Female Athlete of the Week three times during the course of her junior campaign. Andrews received the same league honor once this season following her first-place finish at the Bob Firman Invitational.
Full of talented young runners, the team will lose only two, but very notable, seniors Wagner and Sarah Hansen Frey to graduation.
“Angela and Sarah will be missed for the leadership they provided throughout their careers,” Shane said. “They’re both very good runners and did a lot to help the program during their time here.”
Shane was impressed with the progress that the freshmen and other young runners made during the season.
“The freshmen did very well this season,” he said. “They accomplished a lot in the meets we had and showed constant improvement as runners.”
In 2010, the Cougars will see Lew, Andrews, Nielsen, Sarah Edwards, Rachel Lange, Whitney McDonald, Sarah Yingling, Ashlee Thomas, Lacey Cramer, Lisa Drury, Michaelanne Laurent and many other runners return to continue the prowess of the BYU cross country program.
“We have very high hopes for the future of our team,” Shane said. “If we can stay healthy and have everyone available all year, we should be a very good team and battle for another conference championship.”