MADISON, Wis. – A ninth place finish by No. 22 BYU's women's cross country team at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational Friday morning has paved its way to nationals.
“That was a great race for us,” said BYU head coach Patrick Shane. “We were ninth place, just behind Washington, and we just punched our ticket to nationals right there—we will be going.”
The Cougars will likely need a third-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Region Championship next month to clinch a berth to nationals, but Shane is confident going forward.
After a lightning start from Yesenia Silva with the gun, BYU grouped up and nestled into 11th place for about six kilometers, running in their now-typical pack of Natalie Shields-Connolly, Silva, Carrie Jube and Jennica Redd. They wouldn’t edge into top-10 territory until the final two kilometers, a hallmark of coach Shane’s racing strategy.
“Team running was the theme here,” Shane said. “All the top-four could almost reach out and touch each other in the middle of the race. And then the next three were back there running together in a group, too: Alice Jensen, Alyssa Steed and Ashleigh Warner. It was a great example of team running, and that’s what really does it in cross country.”
Shields-Connolly has led the Cougars the last two races, placing 40th overall Friday.
“It went great,” Shields-Connolly said. “Our team came here to be top-10 and we were ninth so we’re really excited and really happy with how we did.
The Cougars have moved up steadily in the rankings throughout the season, starting the year in 26th and eventually moving up to 22nd. Friday’s performance should propel them into the top-15 and possibly higher. Coach Shane hopes for top-10:
“I told them, ‘we’re top-10, ladies,’” Shane said. “I said ‘I’ve been around a long time and I know a top-10 team when I see one. You girls are going to stand top-10.'”
BYU will compete in the West Coast Conference Championship in Spokane, Washington on October 31st. Nine runners will compete for the Cougars, including Laura Young, who ran first for the team in Wisconsin’s open meet Friday afternoon.
For complete results, visit xc.tfrrs.org.