2013 season at a glance

The BYU women's cross country team is gearing up for the 2013 season after a successful camp last week in Park City, Utah, and a summer of intense training. This year’s regular schedule consists of four meets, highlighted by the Notre Dame Invitational and the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. Post-season competition includes the West Coast Conference meet, NCAA Mountain Region meet and NCAA Nationals. The Cougars travel to San Francisco on Saturday to kick off their 2013 season.

“We didn’t get to nationals last year and our team goal is to get to nationals this year,” said head coach Patrick Shane. “To do that we need to be successful at two big invitationals: Notre Dame and Wisconsin.”

Last year the women placed third at the West Coast Conference meet, missing second place to Portland. The University of San Francisco has won the conference meet four years in a row and is ranked No. 1 in the conference again.            

“Overall we want to have a better season, improve on our third place conference finish, and we have our work cut out for us,” said Shane. “Our goal for the conference meet is to have our very best race of the season that day and see where the chips fall.”

In 2012, the women placed fourth in the NCAA Mountain Region meet. The mountain region has three top 20 teams, including the University of San Francisco, the University of Colorado and the University of New Mexico. This year the Cougars want to be in the top three at the regional meet.

BYU has a mix of strong returners and powerful freshman, who will all have chances to showcase their skill. Natalie Shields was the top runner as a true freshman last year and will lead the team again in the 2013 season.

Sarah Yingling, who returned from serving an LDS mission last year, set an impressive personal record in the 1500-meter race during the 2013 outdoor track and field season and is expected to contribute at a high level this year. Rachel Stewart was an unknown walk-on last year who made major contributions in 2012. She spent the summer competing with the USA Junior Cross Country team and is expected to be a top runner this year.

Junior Andrea Harrison, senior Lindsey Sowards Nielson and senior Nicole Nielsen had great performances at cross country camp last week, and will be great assets to the team.

Kelsey Brown will be making a later debut this season, with some extra recovery time after competing in the 800-meter race at the track and field NCAA championships in June. Brown redshirted the 2012 cross country season and is expected to make a large contribution again this year.

Newly recruited freshmen that Coach Shane has high hopes for include Angela Ellsworth, Emily Rich, Maddie Roach and Bryn Rohner.

Makenna Smith and Jennica Redd are also amongst the returners who should contribute to the overall performance of the team this year.

This weekend at the University of San Francisco Invitational, the top seven will stay home to rest, while some of the newcomers experience their first collegiate competition. Emily Rich, Maddie Roach, Makenna Smith, Jennica Redd, Erica Reddish Nash, Carrie Jube, Danielle Menlove, Ashley Elliot and Bryn Rohner will be traveling to California this weekend to represent the Cougars.

“We are hoping to get a look at these young people and see how they handle early competition when they are called on,” said Shane. “It is the first collegiate race for half the team this weekend, and we are excited to see what they can do.”

The Cougars compete at 9:30 a.m. PDT on Saturday, Aug. 31 at Golden Gate Park.