The BYU cross country teams capitalized on home field advantage Friday in an effort that will serve as a good indicator for the remainder of the season.
The men finished the meet with the top five finishers in the race, who all finished within 12 seconds of each other.
Jared Ward was credited with the race win, posting a time of 20:02.7, with teammate Steve Flint right alongside. Spencer Gardner, Rex Shields and Taylor Farnsworth were the next three racers across the line for the Cougars.
Rex Shields, who made the Preseason All-West Coast Conference roster, praised the team effort for the victory.
“I felt good about the team because we swept from one through five,” Shields said. “I’m really happy for our team right now.”
One of the things that stood out for Shields was the amount of BYU runners in front of the pack that finished.
“It was fun to roll all together, all of the teammates as one,” he said. “We thought Minnesota would break us apart a little bit, but it was nice to do what we did.”
Shields said he optimistic of the team’s growth throughout the season.
“Luckily, it was our first race so we only got improvement to go from here,” Shields said. “We need to just need to keep on getting faster and faster with every race.
For the women, Weber State finished first with 17 points, followed by BYU with 52, UVU with 78 and Idaho State with 101.
The Cougars were led by Lindsey Sowards Nielson, who finished the race in fourth. She was followed by her teammates in order: Candace Eddy Carlisle (Ninth), Maren Hanson Fassmann (11th), Carrie Jube (13th) and Makenna Smith (16th).
Lindsey Sowards Nielson, a junior, had not ran in a cross country season for two years because of injuries. She said she did not want to disappoint her team at her first race and wants the team to make it to nationals.
“I worked really hard this summer because I was healthy and I’m not going to get injured,” Nielson said. “I want us to have a good season.
According to Nielson, the last two years the team barely made it in nationals.
“I don’t want that to happen this year,” she said. “I’m excited too because I haven’t ran in a while and I love it. I’m so thankful that I’m healthy, that everything is going well and I have the motivation to do it.”
A strong home meet for the BYU cross country team gave a good indicator for both coaches to see where they are overall together.
With perfect running conditions on Friday’s race, the only home meet this season for the Cougars was a big deal for head coach Patrick Shane.
“Our expectation today was to put some of the racers in a little more of a pressure situation that they need to earn a spot for the races coming up in the next couple weeks,” Shane said.
Shane was pleased with the results of his team’s effort and seeing where those who ran for the first time this season are currently on the team.
“I felt good about our effort today,” he said. “I felt Lindsey (Sowards Nielson) showed me a lot. Candace (Eddy Carlisle) stepped up and that seemed her best race by far. Overall, it was pretty solid.”
The men next compete in two weeks, on Sept. 29, in the Bill Dellinger Invitational. The women will travel to Ohio for the Toledo Inter-Regional Bubble Buster on Sept. 21.