The BYU women’s cross country team finished sixth overall behind freshman Natalie Shield’s sixth-place overall finish.
“We have a bunch of good freshman,” Head coach Patrick Shane said. “Natalie (Shields) had a breakout race for her first collegiate race, in a field of about 180 runners or so.”
The women’s team finished behind Butler, who took first, San Francisco, Columbia University-Bernard, Toledo and Syracuse. Shane was pleased that his runners were able to keep up with top 30 teams from the nation.
“We ran well and it was the first race for about half of our runners,” Shane said. “It takes three weeks to hit your stride and we didn’t want our top runners to go too early because we need to take it at the end of the year.”
BYU also did not have their top runner, Sarah Darby, because of an illness, but the team will welcome her back at next week’s race.
One of the highlights from this week for Shane was the team finishing ahead of West Virginia University.
“We beat West Virginia University, a very good team,” Shane said. “I was excited to beat WVU because I consider them a top 25 team.”
Shane pointed out that his team had a 33 second split between their first-place runner, Shields, and their fifth-place runner, Shay Fuller. According to Shane, 33 seconds is a good spread to finish as a team and also noted that the second, third, fourth and fifth-place runners had a three second spread between each other. Shane spoke of how it was amazing how they were able to pull that time split off.
Finishing behind Shields for BYU were Michaelanne Laurent, Lindsey Sowards Nielson, Erika Reddish and Shaylynn Baugh Fuller.
Shane said that he will rest Nielson, as well as the top two runners from this last week’s race. The trio will train hard this week and will compete for the Wisconsin race on Oct. 12.
BYU will bring the rest of the group that did not run at this last week’s meet and provide them with an opportunity to race.
For Shane, this last weekend’s race was a positive outlook for his team’s potential towards the end of the season.
“It was a better indication of where we are team wise and what we can do,” Shane said. “We are right on schedule as a team to be a top 30 team.”
BYU will compete in Louisville, Ky. next week at the Greater Louisville Invitational on Sept. 29.