Experts had picked defending champion Stanford to easily repeat as cross country champions in 1997. The media, coaches and publications all agreed Stanford was the best team. The Cardinal hadn't lost a meet in over a year.
Defying the odds, the BYU women beat Stanford 100-102, bringing home the first NCAA Championship ever won by a BYU women's team.
All-American Courtney Pugmire finished first for the Cougars, passing two competitors in the last 150 meters to place fifth in the team competition and eighth overall.
In cross country, seven runners compete for each team, with the finish of the top five runners counting toward the team score. The places taken by the five scored runners are added together and the team with the lowest combined score wins.
"I was counting places as the girls came by me," head coach Patrick Shane recalled. "And I was telling the girls that if they all held their places we'd win the national championship."
Then, in the last 100 meters of the race BYU's fifth runner, sophomore Caisa Monahan, was inadvertently tripped by another runner. With the team title on the line, the Cougars' Emily Nay came through, sprinting past Monahan to cement BYU's team score at 100 and give the Cougars the victory.
Pugmire was named WAC Runner of the Year for the second time. After the championship, Provo mayor Lewis Billings declared January 27, 1998 BYU Women's Cross Country Team Recognition Day in the city.