Women Clinch Second by Eight Points


WATERLOO -- The BYU women's team earned second place today at the 2003 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The Cougars, scoring 128, ran a tight race but fell behind the 2003 National Champions Stanford by eight points, a difference of only four seconds between the two teams.

Despite the fall to Stanford, the Cougars are optimistic and are celebrating their second place finish.

"We really can't complain," BYU women's head coach Patrick Shane said. "We certainly have won our share of the Championships. Now it is just time to congratulate Stanford and celebrate this time."

Shane said he felt the team did the best that they could do but just ran up against a better team today.

"Stanford really has been No. 1 all year, despite what the rankings said," Shane said. "They have been knocking at the National Championship door for six years now, and it finally opened for them."

The Cougars finished strong taking 4th, 13th, 14th, 31st and 66th place.

Senior Michaela Mannova, in her last cross country meet for the Cougars finally broke the fifth place barrier to finish fourth overall in the Championships. In her past two NCAA Championship appearances she consistently placed fifth overall.

"Michaela certainly finished strong as did the team," Shane said. "This group of top four runners is better than our top four from last year. It just all depends on our fifth runner. We really needed someone scoring in the high 50's to win.

"However, despite our fifth runner weakness, Suzanna Larsen did very well for us today," Shane said. "She has been struggling the past few weeks. This race she did not struggle but instead really stepped up for us and took that fifth place spot."

Adding to the Cougars runner-up status, the top four women were also honored as NCAA All-Americans.

"This race was really too close to call before the race started," Shane said. "I am pleased with my young women; we really did have the race we wished to have. Now I am just happy for us and for Stanford."

Additional Quotes on the Women's Race:

"It wasn't my best race but it wasn't bad," Mannova said. "Really, the top four runners did better than we expected them to do but still it is all about the fifth runner. We gave it all we had."

"After all Kassi has been through, she had a phenomenal race," Shane said. (about Kassi Andersen) "The way Kassi was running three weeks ago she wouldn't even had been in the top 100. Really no one would have thought Kassi would have been on the team at the rate she was going."

"Laura Turner did incredible after coming off a mission and a redshirt season last year," Shane said.

"Michaela ran great and placed better than ever even with competition that is better than ever this year," Shane said.

"Breanne really has showed consistency as the fourth runner the past two years," Shane said. "She now heads for a mission to Santiago Chile."

"We just ran up against a better team," Shane said. "But this kind of competition is what builds rivalries."

"You really want to take the time to enjoy this second place win," Shane said. "You worked all year to do your best and now is the time to enjoy it. Truly the process of getting here is the real joy of it all."

"It felt really good to be out there racing today," Sandberg said. "Coach told me I could be in the top 40, and so I worked to be that."

"I felt really strong at the end," Sandberg said. "As I was out there running I really could feel the whole team pushing me and everyone cheering for me. I wanted to run well not just for the seven runners who were running today but all 21 of us on the team."

"This was my last race before leaving to go on my mission and so I just gave it everything that I had," Sandberg said.

"Anytime you are within eight points of a National Championship you did well," BYU women's athletic director, Elaine Michaelis said. "We certainly do have the best coach in the country. He truly cares for the women and what their needs are."

"Today I felt the best I have felt in a long time," Andersen said. "This race was totally different than last year. I was working up the whole race instead of staying with the pack of runners this year. But I felt strong and just focused on running with Laura."

"This second place finish today makes the entire struggle worth it," Andersen said. "I knew I wasn't going to be where I was last year and so I just had to tell myself that it was a totally different year and work from there."

"The second place finish really wasn't anyone's fault," Emily Raymond said.

2003 NCAA Championships
4University of Michigan232
5University of Colorado269
6North Carolina State290
8North Carolina294
10Notre Dame352
BYU Runners
4Michaela Maanova19:52.2
13Kassi Anderson20:14.5
14Laura Turner20:16.0
31Breanne Sandberg30:46.4
66Suzanna Larsen21:11.0
83Amber Harper21:18.9
87Lisa Antonelli21:19.8