NE 37th Ave & Ainsworth St. Portland OR 97255
PROVO, Utah – Freshman Natalie Shields finished first for BYU and fourth overall at the West Coast Conference Cross Country Championships in Portland, Ore., this weekend, only three seconds behind the leader.
“I felt like I finished this race the way I wanted to,” Shields said. “My goal was to stay with the San Francisco runners at the front, and I did that throughout most of the race. I wasn’t able to push as hard as I would have liked, but overall, I felt good about the way I preformed.”
Shields finished the race with a time of 20:38 and earned All-West Coast Conference honors due to her finish in the top-10. San Francisco’s Eva Krchova finished first overall in 20:35 to win the WCC title.
As a team, the Cougars ended up third overall with 85 points, behind San Francisco (26 points) and Portland (52 points).
Rachel Stewart, a freshman walk on, finished second for BYU and 18th overall in 21:15. Lindsey Sowards Nielson (21:21), Sarah Darby (21:21) and Michaelanne Laurent (22:22) finished third, fourth and fifth for the Cougars and 21st, 22nd and 23rd overall, respectively.
Heading into the WCC championships, BYU head coach Patrick Shane felt confident in his team’s ability to preform and finish first in the conference standings despite the lack of experience the team has. He also felt they could out race conference powerhouse San Francisco, who has won the conference championship the last three seasons in a row.
“We came into this race going for first place,” Shane said. “We had a race plan to come out on top ahead of San Francisco, but we didn’t execute it like we wanted to. It was a tough, rainy, cold day, so the situation wasn’t ideal, but our runners ran hard. Our experience in today’s race gives us a chance to regroup and see if we can learn from what happened for our final races.”
Official results from the WCC Championships can be found here.
The Cougars race one more time before the NCAA Championships at the Mountain Regionals on Nov. 9 in Fort Collins, Colo.
2012 Women's Cross Country All-West Coast Conference Team
- Eva Krchova, San Francisco, Jr.
- Elena Burkard, San Francisco, Fr.
- Sheree Shea, LMU, Sr.
- Natalie Shields, BYU, Fr.
- Alice Baker, San Francisco, Sr
- Laura Hottenrott-Freitag, Portland, Fr.
- Laura Suur, San Francisco, Sr.
- Tansey Lystad, Portland, So.
- Lindsey Drake, Gonzaga, Sr.
- Chloe Treleven, San Francisco, Sr.
- Maor Tiyouri, San Francisco, Jr.
- Lyndy Davis, Portland, Sr.
- Gina Paletta , Portland, Sr.
- Natasha Verma, Portland, Jr.
- Lauren Bergam, Gonzaga, Jr.
WCC Player of the Year
- Eva Krchova, San Francisco, Jr.
WCC Women's Coach of the Year
- Helen Lehman-Winters, San Francisco
WCC Freshman of the Year
- Elena Burkard, San Francisco
West Coast Conference Championship preview
PROVO, Utah –Nine runners on the women’s cross country team will represent BYU this Saturday at the West Coast Conference Championships in Portland, Ore., with the hopes of bringing home the WCC title.
“Going into the conference championships, we never know how it’s all going to turn out as far as the competition is concerned,” head coach Patrick Shane said. “There may be runners at some schools who haven’t competed yet because of injuries that could surprise us. However, we had a team meeting this week and figured out a game plan so when Saturday arrives, we will be prepared. ”
According to Shane, none of the runners on the women’s team have reached their maximum potential yet but have focused on pacing themselves in order to peak at the right point during the season.
“All season long, we have talked about conserving our energy and running below our potential,” Shane said. “Our goal is to max out when it matters most, so that we have a shot at the title. This weekend is when it all begins.”
Among the nine runners representing the Cougars this weekend are freshman Natalie Shields, senior Michaelanne Laurent, junior Lindsey Sowards Nielson and senior Kathryn Vidmar. Each of these runners have contributed to the team’s success, but each plays a slightly different role.
Shields, who finished 54th in Wisconsin and sixth in Toledo, is among the favorites in to win the WCC title, despite her lack of experience in collegiate competition. She will run head-to-head against fellow freshman Elena Burkhard from San Francisco as a main competitor. In Wisconsin, Shields finished two spots behind Burkhard, but in Toledo Shields finished one spot ahead.
“Even in the two races Natalie has competed in, it is evident she has taken a role as a top runner on our team,” Shane said. “She and Elena Burkhard are two strong freshman aligned in the same conference that will both make Saturday’s race tough and exciting for everyone.”
Laurent, who finished 88th in Wisconsin and 31st in Toledo, has consistently maintained the No. 2 spot for the Cougars throughout the season. To her coaches and teammates, Laurent is steady and a leader.
“Throughout her career at BYU, she has improved every year,” Shane said. “She hasn’t competed as much this year as in the past, but she has still competed at her best. Because of her consistency, I know she will have a great race this weekend.”
Nielson, who finished 148th in Wisconsin and 32nd in Toledo, could surprise other teams and coaches because of the continual improvements she has made throughout the season.
“Lindsey’s confidence is growing with every workout,” Shane said. “She is ready to have a breakout race, and people are going to be surprised by her performance.”
Vidmar, who finished 155th in Wisconsin and 71st in Louisville, has provided her team with inspiration throughout the season, due to her determination to compete as one of the top-five runners.
“Kathryn is a Cinderella story,” Shane said. “She came to me at the beginning of the season and told me she wanted to compete in the final seven races. ‘I know I can do it,’ she said. To see her follow through on that goal has been inspiring to her team and to me. She is ready for this weekend and will make the most of it.”
Heading into the conference championships, the Cougars come off a 24th-place finish at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, a 14th-place finish at the Greater Louisville Invitational, and a sixth-place finish at the Toledo Bubble Buster.
The women’s race at the WCC Championships is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. PT at Fernhill Park.
Live results and race information can be found at the WCC Championship Central homepage.