(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – BYU women’s cross country is entering the final third of its season beginning this Saturday at the West Coast Conference Championships hosted by Santa Clara University.
The Cougars have competed at five meets this season, including three large invitationals, and have enjoyed varying levels of success. A fourth place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational among a competitive field showed what BYU is capable of, and is the highlight of the season thus far.
“Our Notre Dame meet we put it together better than any other meet,” BYU head coach Patrick Shane said.
The meet was better than all others because the Cougars had their top five runners all within 45 seconds of each other, something the team hasn’t been able to do at any other meet this season.
“That’s what you want on a team,” team captain Andrea Nelson Harrison said. “You want people to be as close as possible to each other because it eliminates points in between. At Notre Dame we were able to do that really well. We knew with the nature of our team this year, we’d have to have a race where everyone was on. That just happened to be a race where everyone was on.”
Having not won a conference championship since joining the West Coast Conference in 2011, BYU hopes to be peaking at the right time. The team will need a Notre Dame-like performance from its top five runners to accomplish that goal.
“We have a bunch of potential fifth runners, we just need one to step up and be about 45 seconds or better behind our first runner,” Shane said. “Our top four seem to be gelling and are solid.”
The top four runners this season have been Harrison, Carrie Jube, Jennica Redd and Makenna Smith. The fifth runner has changed from week to week but Shane believes he may have found his fifth runner heading in to the final stretch.
“What would’ve really helped us at Wisconsin was Marren Haneberg,” Shane said. “She ran in the B race and she was easily our fifth runner time-wise. Had we interjected her in to our team score with her time, we would’ve beaten a few more teams. Putting Marren in to the mix for our next two or three races and then having the rest of our team peak will really help us.”
Last season, San Francisco won the team title, while BYU tied for second but lost a tiebreaker to Portland and finished third in the conference. BYU’s top finisher was Harrison who placed seventh overall.
“We can win the conference championship,” Harrison said. “Especially adding Marren to the mix of our top nine. She’s only made us stronger. It’s going to be tough, but if we come ready to compete at our best we can do it.”
The women’s 6K race begins at 9 a.m. PT. The championship races can be streamed live at TheW.tv.com, the West Coast Conference’s official digital website. The stream will be available at this link. The event can also be followed on social media using the #WCCchamps hashtag.
The nine athletes representing BYU at the championships along with their pictures can found here in the women’s cross country blog.