Richie Connolly
The BYU women's cross-country team takes off at the starting line in the NCAA Division I Mountain Region Championships

The No. 24 BYU women’s cross-country finished team fourth at the NCAA Mountain Region Championship on Friday, putting the Cougars in good position to earn an at-large bid to the national championships.

“I’m thrilled,” BYU head coach Patrick Shane said. “I think every one of them laid it on the line and ran their hearts out. We’re certainly stronger than we were two weeks ago at the conference meet, and I think we’re going to be even better next week.”

No. 2 Colorado edged out No. 1 New Mexico in a one-point victory, both earning automatic bids to the NCAA National Championship in Lousville, Kentucky, next weekend. No. 20 Utah placed third, 10 points ahead of BYU.

BYU has likely earned enough criteria points to advance to nationals as a “bubble” team. Shane is confident BYU will move forward.

Natalie Shields-Connolly finished in first for the Cougars, and Carrie Jube, Jennica Redd and Yesenia Silva weren’t far behind. Alice Jensen finished fifth for BYU and was the last to score, followed by Ashleigh Warner and Alyssa Steed.

“It was fun,” Shields-Connolly said. “We did a lot better than last time, but there's more we can do, and we're going to do it at nationals.”

Jube is the sole Cougar who ran at nationals last year, and Shields-Connolly competed at the meet during her sophomore season in 2013. For the rest of the team, it will be their first trip to the NCAA championships.

The top-25 finishers at each of Friday's region meets across the nation were named 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country All-Region Honorees. BYU's honorees included Shields-Connolly (17th overall) and Jube (25th overall).

For complete results, visit the BYU women’s cross-country schedule page.

Joe Moxon is a sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications