PRINCETON, N.J. ­— Junior Nicole Nielsen led the BYU women’s distance runners Friday with a first-place finish in the 10,000-meter race during the first day of the ECAC/IC4A Championships. Nielsen finished the race in 35 minutes 28.49 seconds to become the first Cougar to win a conference championship at the ECAC/IC4A Championships.

“Nicole had an amazing race,” BYU coach Patrick Shane said. “Because of the dynamics of this race, she didn’t have the lead for most of it, but she took the lead late in the race to win. Our athletes' performances set us up well for tomorrow. I’m really proud of what they’ve done so far."

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Throughout most of the race Nielsen ran right behind the leader. With four laps to go, however, Nielsen took the lead to finish with a new personal record by 19 seconds. According to Shane, the last two laps were the fastest Nielsen has ever run. Nielsen's performance ranked her 48th in the region, which should qualify her for regionals. Due to the number of conference championships this weekend, final results for regional qualifiers will not be posted until Monday.

In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, fellow distance runner Andrea Harrison Nelson finished third for the Cougars with a time of 10:23.92. Jennica Redd and Maren Hanson Fassmann, who also ran in the steeplechase, finished 10th and 12th overall in 10:36.49 and 10:43.97, respectively.

In the 5,000 meters, Lindsey Nielson finished 13th in 16:34.76, and Natalie Shields finished 20th in 16:35.13.

Elizabeth Wilson currently sits in fifth in the heptathlon with 2,939 points.

Steven Tew is an SID at BYU Athletic Communications. He can be contacted at,