SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – The Cougars fell to the Bulldogs in a dramatic tiebreaker Saturday at the West Coast Conference championship cross country meet.
Two weeks of illness and injury marred BYU Saturday, but they impressively managed to still place well, tying in the raw score with Gonzaga. Most notably, Natalie Shields-Connolly, BYU’s top runner for most of the season, has been dealing with a sprained ankle and only trained with the team once this week. Others have also been feeling unwell.
“It was not our best race of the year, but it was our best race today,” said BYU head coach Patrick Shane. “Everybody did their best today and we couldn’t have done any more than we did. They all gave it everything they had. Today just wasn’t our day.”
Gonzaga standouts Shelby Mills, Jessica Mildes and Jordan Thurston finished first, third and seventh, respectively, ahead of BYU’s leader, Jennica Redd. Redd’s ninth place finish led a consecutive pack of four Cougars, including Alice Jensen (10th), Shields-Connolly (11th) and Yesenia Silva (12th). The two teams ended up finishing with 59 points apiece, forcing a tiebreaker to determine the winner. It went to the Zags.
The tiebreaker was determined based on which team had three runners cross the line first, giving the Bulldogs the advantage and the title.
“I want to congratulate Gonzaga and Pat, their coach,” Shane said. “They picked a great time to peak – hear at home in the conference championship. They showed some great, great cross country racing.”
BYU had its virtues as well. Redd had a solid race, placing first for the team, and Jensen, who won the preconference meet in Spokane this September, took 10th overall as a true, walk-on freshman.
“I’m a little bummed we didn’t win the championship, but my team did great and it was fun,” Jensen said. “If we can just stick together at region, it will be awesome.”
Based on today's results, both Redd and Jensen earned first team All-WCC honors. Kelsey Braithwaite and Shields-Connolly were named to the WCC All-Academic team, with Carrie Jube and Redd receiving All-Academic honorable mentions.
For complete results, visit the BYU women’s cross country schedule page.
PROVO, Utah – After placing ninth at the Wisconsin Invitational and skyrocketing in national rankings, No. 14 BYU will return to Spokane Valley, Washington, for the West Coast Conference championship.
The Cougars made a goal during fall camp that they would take home the conference title for the second season in a row, something the Cougars have not done since entering the WCC.
“Overall, in my opinion, it’s a good, well developed team,” Shane said. “One of the best we’ve had in 10 or 12 years or more – it’s a really strong, deep cross country team. They have an opportunity to do something special here by winning back-to-back conference titles.”
“Our team’s looking really strong this year,” team captain Jennica Redd said. “We’re a lot deeper than last year now, so we hope to repeat the conference title.”
As the highest seeded team in the conference, BYU is well positioned to take the gold, with four contenders for the blue ribbon: Redd, Natalie Shields-Connolly, Yesenia Silva and Carrie Jube. But 6,000 meters makes for a difficult race, and the Cougars will have to put their best feet forward.
“They’re not just going to mail us the trophy,” Shane said. “And we wouldn’t want them to—we want to go and experience the moment. A conference championship is an exciting thing. We’re excited to be able to go and line up to test ourselves against the other teams and athletes.”
BYU placed first in the WCC preview meet in September, despite leaving its top four harriers at home. Alice Jensen, who broke the tape in the preview meet, will compete this weekend, along with Rachel Cannon, Alyssa Steed, Ashleigh Warner and Laura Young. Both Jensen and Cannon will be challengers for honors as the WCC Freshman Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
The gun will sound at 10 a.m. PST at Plantes Ferry Park in Spokane Valley, Washington.
For links to live results and video, visit the BYU women’s cross country schedule page.