Junior Kassi Andersen finished the season strong with a sixth place finish at the NCAA National Championships (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The BYU women's cross country team ended their 2006 season by placing 22nd overall at the NCAA National Championships and ranked No. 17 in the country.
Junior Kassi Andersen, returning from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, established herself as a leader early on in the season. Earning her third All-America honor, Andersen consistently proved her value to the team.
Several runners were acknowledged throughout the season by the Mountain West Conference. Amber Duffin and Anne Heiner each were recognized as MWC Athletes of the Week, along with Andersen who received the honor twice.
Andersen, Duffin and Amy Fowler received First-Team All-MWC honors, along with Breanne Sandberg and Heiner receiving Second-Team All-MWC honors. Three BYU runners earned Mt. Region honors, including Andersen, Duffin and Sandberg.
Based on her performance at the MWC Championships, Andersen was recognized as the MWC Runner of the Year. At that same meet, head coach Patrick Shane was named Coach of the Year.
2006 BYU Autumn Classic
Andersen led her team and finished first in the race.
"Kassi looked great, absolutely fantastic" said Shane. "She is one of the greatest cross country runners in America."
Included in the top five for the Cougars was Andersen (1), Wendy Harris (4), Jenna Taylor Jensen (12), Katie Porter (13) and Tawny Bybee (15).
2006 Great American Invitational
Sophomore Duffin led the BYU women to a second place finish. Competing in her first race of the season, Duffin finished third overall in the 5k with a time of 18:47.
"I'm particularly pleased with Amber's performance," said head coach Patrick Shane. "I think she'll be in our top five. She's one of our most improved athletes. She really showed me what I thought she was capable of."
BYU finished second with 54 points behind the University of Alabama-Birmingham's 41 points
Shane was pleased with the results of his individual runners as well as the depth that emerged during the meet. Sarah Ingebretsen (12), Jensen (13), Porter (15) and Bybee (16) contributed to the team's score.
2006 Bill Dellinger Invitational
Andersen captured the top spot, leading the No. 6 Cougars to a second place finish and total score of 55 points in the 6k run.
Fowler (5), Duffin (9), Sandberg (14) and Heiner (26) rounded out the top five.
"I felt good," said Andersen. "It was perfect conditions and decent competition. It's just good to get experience and race people. I feel that at each race if I get a little better, I'll know my strengths and what I need to improve on."
2006 Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic
The women's team had a successful trip down to Walt Disney World, winning the 5k race with a team score of 35 points. BYU beat out 35 other universities, which included 287 individuals.
Heiner led the Cougars with her 4th place finish and a time of 17:59. After a slow start to the race, she moved up and challenged for the lead in the final half-mile.
Accompanying Heiner in the top 10 was Lisa Frischknecht, Jensen, Ingebretsen and Porter.
"Lisa had a breakthrough race," said Shane. "She's really improved a lot this year. Our team made some major steps to prepare for the last three races of the year. This meet helped us decide our final 12."
2006 NCAA Pre-National
Andersen placed third and led No. 6 BYU to a fourth place finish in the women's 6k Blue Race at the Pre-National Meet.
"I just tried to stick with the program," said Andersen. "My strategy was to run up with the top group. I tried to stick mentally tough and stay with those top girls, hang on to the end."
Andersen crossed the finish line with a time of 20:22.1. Duffin finished second for the Cougars (34), followed by Fowler (38), Sandberg (71) and Heiner (96).
In addition to the Blue Race, the women were represented in the Women's Open Race. Ingebretsen led BYU along with Bybee, coming in 17th and 18th, respectively.
2006 MWC Championships
The BYU Cougars retained their conference titles at the Mountain West Conference Championship at Rose Park Golf Course in Salt Lake City.
Andersen led the women's team and won her third race of the season with a time of 20:52.7. BYU finished with 35 points, ahead of second-place Colorado State (44).
"Kassi is running really solid now," said Shane. "She's winning races without having to rest yet. We'll make sure she's fresh going into these next couple races, but she's getting the job done."
Rounding out the women's top seven were Duffin (5), Fowler (7), Sandberg (9), Heiner (13), Jensen (15) and Bybee (16).
2006 NCAA Mt. Regional
The No. 12 women had a great day, as they placed third behind Colorado and Texas Tech. The second and third place teams were separated by seven points, while only two points decided the third and fourth teams.
Junior Andersen finished third overall with a time of 20:41.6. She led the top five, which included Duffin (7), Sandberg (21), Jensen (31) and Bybee (32).
Sophomore Fowler went down at about the halfway point in the race with an injury. Despite the setback, the team's tremendous depth came through and finished the race.
"We ran very well considering some unforeseen problems," said Shane. "We just need to get healthy to run in nine days at nationals."
2006 NCAA National Championships
The women's team placed 22nd overall with Andersen ending the season strong by finishing sixth with a time of 20:54.
"She ran a marvelous race," said BYU head coach Patrick Shane. "She did everything I could have ever asked of her. I am very proud of her."
Included in the top five for the Cougars were Andersen, Fowler, Duffin, Heiner and Whitney McDonald.
"Any time you qualify for nationals you have to feel good," said Shane. "Especially when your athletes put it all on the line. The results at this meet do not reflect the kind of year we had. I feel good about our team's accomplishments this season."