Cougars set to race top runners for first time at Toledo Bubble Buster

PROVO, Utah – Heading into its fourth race of the season, the BYU women’s cross country team will race its top runners at the Toledo Inter-Regional Bubble Buster for the first time on Friday.

“Going into this race, we are all optimistic,” head coach Patrick Shane said. “Our workouts have been going well. When that is happening, I can compare these workouts with previous years and make a judgment on how we are doing. This race will be a great measure of where we really are.”

BYU will face four teams ranked in the top-25 national poll including Toledo (18), Syracuse (22), San Francisco (23) and West Virginia (25). Wisconsin, Iowa and Portland, who also received several votes, are competing in the Bubble Buster as well.

Competing for the Cougars this week are the top-12 runners on the roster, several of which are running in their first race of their collegiate career. Upperclassmen Stephanie Bills, Michaelanne Laurent, Brooke Holt and Shaylynn Baugh Fuller will compete in their first race this year. They are joined by two of the team’s top recruits, Natalie Shields and Erika Reddish, who have yet to race in a collegiate competition.

Sheilds, a native of Salt Lake City, broke the 1600-meter Utah state record at last year’s BYU High School Invitational in 4:51.02. Reddish, a standout from Murreita, Calif., won the 1,600 at the Southwestern League finals four years in a row and set three Valley records in the 800, the 1,600 and the 3,200.

Freshmen Ashleigh Warner, Danica Wyson, Rachel Stewart and Laura Young began their college careers at the Reno Twilight Classic two weeks ago finishing second, third, fifth and sixth, respectively. They are set to compete in their second race of the year.

Lindsey Sowards Nielson, who finished fourth overall at the BYU Autumn Classic, and Maren Hanson Fassmann, who finished 11th overall, are also set to compete at the Bubble Buster.

 “I’m convinced we are a top-25 team,” Shane said. “In the past, we’ve only had one or two standouts. This year, I’m impressed with our depth. This team, collectively, is strong and tightly knit.”

The women's race is scheduled to begin Friday at 6:10 p.m. at Ottawa Park in Toledo, Ohio.

Live results will be made available at www.deltatiming.com shortly after the race. The meet will also be covered by www.tracksuperfan.com