SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The BYU men's team took first place with 24 points in the men's 8k race and the women's team placed second with 44 points in the women's 6k race at the 2016 West Coast Conference Championships in San Diego on Friday.
The No. 4 men were led to victory by second-place Jonathon Harper and BYU's top four runners finishing in the top 10 of the race. BYU was just nine points short of a perfect score. Head coach Ed Eyestone had high praises for his team’s win.
"The team really ran great today. We moved exceptionally well the last mile and a quarter and turned a close race into a runaway success. We made it a point to have our top five runners in the top seven overall. I was particularly happy with Jon Harper's strong run," said Eyestone.
Harper (24:26.2) finished just seven seconds behind San Francisco’s Alex Short. No. 12 Portland trailed closely behind BYU for the majority of the race but ended in second place with a score of 45. San Francisco ended in third with a score of 92.
The Cougars' next four finishers were closely behind Harper. Rory Linkletter took fourth (24:32.6), Brayden McClelland took fifth (24:33.3), Nicolas Montanez took sixth (24:40.8), and Clayton Young was seventh (24:42.2).
Harper, Linkletter, McClelland, Montanez, and Young, were named to the All-WCC First Team by finishing in the top 10 of the race.
The team has four WCC championships in six seasons since joining the conference.
For the majority of the women's race, No. 20 BYU, No. 8 Portland, and No. 13 San Francisco battled it out at the front of the pack. In the end, the Cougars finished two points behind Portland (42 points). San Francisco finished in third with 47 points.
"Every girl fought hard to the end. We knew we had to go in and try to go for the win against two higher ranked teams," said BYU women's cross country head coach Diljeet Taylor. "We definitely showed that we can compete with anyone. The ladies left it all out there and I couldn't be more proud of how well they did today."
Senior Yesenia Silva led the Cougars by placing second place overall behind Portland’s Lauren Larocco. Silva finished the 6k race in 20:51.6.
BYU's next four runners all finished in the top 15. Laura Young came in eighth with a time of 21:06.9, Erica Brik-Jarvis was ninth with a time of 21:08.6, Ashleigh Warner placed 11th with a time of 21:09.1 and Courtney Wayment took 14th with a time of 21:22.8.
Based on Friday's results, Silva, Young and Brik-Jarvis were named to the All-WCC First Team. Warner and Wayment both earned honorable mentions.
Up next for the Cougars are the NCAA Mountain Region Championships on Friday, Nov. 11, in Logan, Utah.
The BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams are gearing up for the West Coast Conference Championships which will take place in San Diego, California, at Mission Bay Park on Friday.
The No. 4-ranked men’s team looks to claim the conference title for the second straight year and the fourth time in six years. Head coach Ed Eyestone is excited to witness the competition this weekend and hopefully watch his squad take home yet another championship.
“I am looking forward to seeing a good, solid performance from our guys,” Coach Eyestone said. “We know that we will have a fight on our hands, and so we are not taking anything for granted. Having said that, I think that if we run our best, we should be able to defend the conference title.”
Top in-conference competition includes consistently-ranked Portland, who currently sits in 12th place nationally. The Pilots finished in second place last year behind BYU at the WCC Championships and are also looking to claim the title this weekend.
“Portland is a very good team,” coach Eyestone said. “They are well-coached and they will come ready to go. We can’t just roll over and think we’re going to laugh our way through the meet. And I have sent that message to my athletes.”
The Cougars are coming off a third-place finish at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational where senior Nicolas Montanez finished ninth overall, ahead of his teammates, junior Jonathan Harper (18th) and sophomore Rory Linkletter (22nd), who all finished in the top 25 against top national competition.
As much as a team title means to his squad, however, Eyestone is hoping his team can bring home not only one but two victories this weekend.
“I’d love to win the team title, but I’d also like to win the individual title as well,” he said. “It would be nice to end the weekend with those titles.”
Nine athletes will represent the Cougars at the championships. With sophomore Dallin Farnsworth going down this past week with a season-ending stress fracture, junior Steve Morrin will suit up for the Cougars for the first time this season and look to help his team to a victory.
The women’s team enters this weekend’s championship meet toting a No. 20 national ranking, behind WCC opponents Portland (No. 8) and San Francisco (No. 13). All three teams come in as potential favorites to claim the title.
Coach Diljeet Taylor is anticipating a competitive meet between the top teams and looking for the women to reclaim the conference title since their last victory in 2014.
“This is an exciting meet,” Coach Taylor said. “This is what we have been training for all year, and our runners are ready to roll. On Friday morning, all of the teams get to line up, and the team that runs the best on that day will win the title. Simple as that. And that is what we have been training for. Both Portland and San Francisco are running very well, but I also feel very confident in our team. The girls are pretty hyped up and we are ready to put it all on the line.”
BYU finished in second place at last year’s conference championships behind Gonzaga, and most recently took in 10th place overall at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin invite two weeks ago. The Cougars are anxious to perform even better this weekend and come home with a conference championship victory.
“Training has been going really well,” Coach Taylor said. “We walked away from the Wisconsin meet very hungry, with fire in our bellies, and so that is going to contribute to our girls running with some real determination, maybe even a little chip on our shoulders. I want each of my girls to run to their potential, and if that happens, we definitely have a chance to win the title. That is the goal.”
The women’s competition will begin at 10:00 a.m. (PDT) and the men’s competition will begin at 11:00 a.m. (PDT). Both races will be livestreamed on TheW.tv. Fans can also follow along on the team's official Twitter handle, @BYUTFXC, for live updates.