Natalie Shields leads team to sixth-place finish at Toledo Bubble Buster

TOLEDO, Ohio – In her first race of the season, Natalie Shields finished first for BYU and sixth overall to lead the women’s cross country team to a sixth-place finish in Toledo.

“I felt like I had a great start,” Shields said. “I jumped out in front early with several other runners, but after mile one, people started breaking off. The last 1,000 meters I was running strong, but still think I could have run a bit harder. There was a group of runners right ahead of me, but overall I’m really happy with my race. I didn’t really know what to expect, so finishing sixth was very realistic to me.”

Shields was the highest placing freshman with a finishing time of 13:24.7.

“For any runner, Natalie’s performance was excellent, and she’s only a freshman,” head coach Patrick Shane said. “She didn’t give anyone any slack. She finished ahead of several strong runners from San Francisco, Toledo and Butler, who are all top-30 teams. I’m pleased with the way she ran and with our whole team. We ran well.”

Michaelanne Laurent finished second for BYU and 31st overall in 13:57.3 in her first race of the season. She was followed closely by Lindsey Sowards Nielson, who finished four-tenths of a second behind Laurent to finish third for BYU and 32nd overall in 13:57.7.

Freshman Erika Reddish (35th) and senior Shaylynn Baugh Fuller (39th) finished off the Cougars’ top five with times of 13:58.6 and 13:59.8, respectively.

As a team, BYU finished behind Butler, San Francisco, Columbia, Toledo and Syracuse. Butler’s Katie Clark finished first overall in 13:04.8.

BYU is back in action next week September 29, 2012, at the Greater Louisville Invitational in Louisville, Ky.  

Full individual results from the Toledo Bubble Buster can be found here.

Full team results can be found here.

“The top-three teams in the West Coast Conference were here today, San Francisco, us and Portland," Shane said. "We still have several weeks until the conference championships, where we will meet these teams again. That gives us plenty of time to prepare.”