A week removed from fall camp in Park City, the BYU women’s cross-country team is revved up for a strong showing at home.
The BYU Autumn Classic will be the first look at new freshmen Emma Gee, Alice Jensen and Rachel Cannon, and a fresh look at Erica Birk, Ashleigh Warner and Laura Young, who recently returned from LDS missions. Natalie Shields-Connoly, who is coming off a redshirt season last year, will also return to the field.
Other teams attending include Utah Valley and Weber State.
“Weber State feels particularly positive about its women’s team and I would expect them to be a formidable foe this weekend,” BYU head coach Patrick Shane said. “We’re excited. We’ve got all those high school kids that come and run too, so we’ve got a nice crowd and we want people to come out and support us. Go Cougs.”
This season marks the first since women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been allowed to serve full-time missions as early as 19 instead of 21. Shane is excited about the implications.
“We’ve had a two-year gap in the program in some ways,” Shane said. “They’re all back from missions now and are going to step in and be major contributors.
“Plus, we’ve got our returners. Carrie Jube, our top runner from the conference meet last year and national qualifier in cross-country, is back along with Jennica Redd, and they’ve never looked better.”
There are several other athletes that Shane says have stepped up their training over the summer and have come back more prepared than they were their freshman year in a sport where it helps tremendously to have already spent a year in the program.
“Overall, in my opinion, it’s a good, well-developed team,” Shane said. “One of the best we’ve had in 10 or 12 years or more. It’s a really strong, deep cross-country team.”
The women’s 5k race begins at 10:15 a.m., at the Clarence F. Robison Track and Field complex.
Live scoring will be available on the BYU women’s cross country schedule page.
Joe Moxon is a sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications