Women’s cross country new NCAA national champions



    The BYU women’s cross country team proved that dreams can come true as it won the NCAA National Championship in Greenville, S.C., Monday and secured the first-place trophy.

    The Cougars entered the meet ranked second in the nation, but were able to outrun first-ranked Stanford by a narrow score of two points.

    “In a lifetime of coaching, this is the type of thing you dream about,” said head coach Patrick Shane. “It’s a real tribute to the type of women we have on our team.”

    Leading the way for the Cougars was Courtney Pugmire, who finished fifth with a time of 16:58. Maggie Chan followed close behind in 13th place at 17:04. Other BYU runners were Elizabeth Jackson in 22nd place at 17:19, Tara Haynes in 27th place at 17:22, Emily Nay in 33rd place at 17:31, Caisa Monahan in 36th place at 17:33 and Sharolyn Shields in 69th place at 17:55.

    BYU had a big scare at the end of the race when Monahan, who was running in fifth place for the team at the time, was tripped. Luckily, Nay was right beside her and was able to finish fifth. Monahan quickly jumped to her feet and still finished before Stanford’s fifth runner.

    After the runners crossed the finish line, BYU was announced as the unofficial winner by two points. Officials then took an hour reviewing tapes of the finishes to verify the statistics. BYU could have only a reserved celebration until the official results were announced, because anything could have happened with only two points separating Stanford from the Cougars.

    Pugmire, Chan and Jackson, who all earned All-American honors last year, repeated the feat again this season with their performances in the meet.

    The BYU runners weren’t the only ones to pick up some hardware after the race. Shane was awarded the Coach of the Year trophy for his work in guiding the team to such a great season. Shane has led the Cougars to third and fourth places at nationals already, but this first-place finish is the highest by any BYU women’s cross country team in history.

    “It’s interesting, because it’s difficult for it to sink in,” Shane said. “When it happened, though, I was thrilled, excited and elated for the athletes that have worked so hard all year long.”

    Winning a national championship was not the only thing the team did on its trip to South Carolina. Sunday night the team spoke at a fireside for many of the surrounding stakes. Shane said it was a very inspirational event — possibly more important than winning the national title.

    “No matter what happened in the race, they were already winners for the type of people they have become,” Shane said.

    Although it may seem there is not much more to accomplish after a national title, they still have next year — the team will not lose any of the runners to graduation.

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