(Photo by Steve Fohl)
The Cougars ended 2013 with a stellar season lead by junior Andrea Nelson Harrison, senior Lindsey Sowards Nielson, and sophomore Natalie Shields.
“Overall we feel like we achieved our goals this year of getting to nationals,” head coach Patrick Shane said. “We know we are a good team and we proved it. It was so much fun to coach those girls, they wanted their goals and they worked so hard.”
The team finished 28th at nationals after receiving an at-large bid to attend the national meet. The women had an important goal to earn a spot at nationals in 2013 after not qualifying to compete in 2012.
BYU finished in third place at the Mountain Regional Championship meet, with Harrison finishing in ninth place overall, and first for BYU. Shields, Harrison, Sarah Yingling, and Nielson were selected to the Mountain All-Region team.
Harrison also led BYU to a third place finish at the West Coast Conference Championship meet with a seventh-place finish overall. Shields was also a heavy contributor finishing in ninth place overall. Harrison and Shields were selected to the All-Conference team.
BYU was bested by powerhouse and conference rival, San Francisco, a team that repeatedly brought heavy competition throughout the season. Portland also had a strong presence at the conference meet, barely taking second place over BYU. BYU had the chance to take down Portland earlier in the season at the BYU Autumn Classic, where Portland secured first place by only two points.
Another highlight meet for BYU was the Notre Dame Invitational when the women finished in fourth place overall. Shields led the Cougars with a 15th place finish in a loaded field. BYU’s performance at this meet was crucial for BYU to receive their at-large bid for nationals.
The cross country team opened up their season ranked No. 3 in the region, and finished No. 3 in the region. They also were unranked in the first weeks of the season, and finished with a No. 28 position in the country by the end of the season.
“This was a season of trying to come back from a low point of not going to nationals last year, which hasn’t happened very often to us,” Shane said. “We are grateful to the support we have had throughout the season. “
Maren Fassmann, Nicole Nielsen, Lindsey Sowards Nielson, and Sarah Yingling are the four seniors that will graduate this year. Returning for competition in 2014 will be Shields, Harrison, junior Kelsey Brown, and sophomore Rachel Stewart .