PROVO, Utah – The BYU women’s cross-country team heads to Madison, Wis., Friday afternoon for the fourth annual Wisconsin Adidas Invitational as the team continues its road to nationals.
The Cougars will compete against 49 other schools, 19 of which are ranked in the top 30.
“This meet is the most competitive invitational we’ve ever competed in,” BYU head coach Patrick Shane said. “If we beat a few of these teams and finish 17th or better, it’s really going to help us earn the criteria points we need to qualify for nationals. Last week, our team captains called a team meeting to redefine what they want to accomplish. Their eyes are set on nationals, and Wisconsin is a perfect opportunity for them to work towards that goal.”
The women’s cross-country team last competed in the Greater Louisville Invitational, which consisted of the same amount of participants but not as many ranked teams, finishing 14th overall. The Cougars were led by freshman walk-on Rachel Stewart and senior Kathryn Vidmar, who finished first and second for BYU, respectively. Due to their performances at the Louisville Invitational, they earned the right to compete in Wisconsin.
Natalie Shields is set to join Stewart and Vidmar this weekend as the top runner for the Cougars in her second competition of the season. Shields made her season and collegiate debut at the Toledo Inter-Regional Bubble Buster in Toledo, Ohio, where she finished sixth in a field of 172 runners. She also finished first for BYU as first among freshman, edging out freshman Elena Burkard of West Coast Conference rival San Franscico.
Michaelanne Laurent and Lindsey Sowards Nielson are also set to compete this weekend as the team’s top upperclassmen. During the Toledo Bubble Buster, Laurent and Nielson finished 31st and 32st overall, respectively.
The invitational takes place on the Thomas Zimmer Championships Course, which hosted its first cross-country race in the fall of 2009. The course offers challenging terrain for runners and elevated viewing for spectators. Located next to the University Ridge Golf Course, the course features an exterior loop of approximately 2,500 meters and an interior of 1,000m. Both loops cover the area’s rolling hills and valleys, while the outside loop also runs through a section of dense woods.
The race is six kilometers and is set to begin at noon CDT. The event also includes a ‘B' race, which will begin at 1:20 p.m.
More information about the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational can be found at the invitational homepage.
Steven Tew is an SID at BYU Athletic Communications. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org