TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams took seventh and 10th place, respectively, at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday.
The men’s team took seventh place with a total of 247 points. Just ahead of BYU was Colorado with 223 points and just behind the Cougars was Wisconsin with 256. Head coach Ed Eyestone was extremely pleased with both BYU teams’ remarkable performances.
“We had an amazing day,” Eyestone said. “Both the men’s and women’s team finished in the top ten for the first time since the 90s, and so, obviously, it was a great day for us. I am really happy—very solid team race.”
BYU was led by senior captain Nico Montanez who finished ninth overall with a time of 30:02.3. Sophomore Rory Linkletter followed Montanez and finished in 30:19.5, placing 32nd overall. Both athletes received All-American honors for their top-40 finishes.
“Nico ran a really strong come-from-behind race to break into the top ten, which is the highest placing by an individual at BYU since 2006. It was a great contest for him,” Eyestone said. “Rory also ran a super race. He didn’t have the best start in the word, but he moved up really strong and had a powerful last 2k to advance almost 30 spots. Great races by both of them.”
Clayton Young was the third Cougar to cross the finish line, and he took 77th overall with a time of 30:43.9. Spencer Hanson followed Young and took 92nd overall in 30:49.6. Jonathan Harper finished shortly after and placed 101st overall in 30:51.9. Close behind Harper was senior Mitchell Briggs who took 88th overall in 30:55.1, just ahead of freshman Brayden McLelland who rounded out the Cougar runners and logged a mark of 30:57.4, taking 110th overall.
The men finish the 2016 season as the seventh-best team in the nation and spent each week of the season ranked in the top 15.
“This was a powerful day of racing, and this finish sets us up really well for our track season,” Eyestone concluded.
On the women’s side, a 10th-place finish proved to far exceed the team’s hopes going in as the 28th-ranked team in the nation. Head coach Diljeet Taylor is proud of her squad for coming into the competition and performing not only well, but beyond expectations.
“The girls ran a phenomenal race, and I am so proud of what we accomplished today,” coach Taylor said. “Our goal was to have the highest finish we have had in 10 years, which was 19th place. We knew if things went really well that we could be in that top 15, but for us to come in and get top 10 is incredible.
Taylor said that everything came together at the right moment. With a race plan to be calm the first 2k, to commit the second 2k and to compete the final 2k, the girls executed perfectly.
BYU was led by sophomore All-American Erica Birk who placed took 34th overall with a time of 20:20.6.
Behind Birk was junior Laura Young who recorded a 71st-place finish in 20:41.8. Freshman Olivia Hoj was only seconds behind, and she finished in 20:45.1 and took 82nd overall. Senior Yesenia Silva took 114th overall and crossed the finish line in 20:53.9. Junior Ashleigh Warner took 123rd place in 20:56.0 and freshman Courtney Wayment was just behind, finishing in 21:04.6 to take 153rd. Sophomore Alice Jensen was the final Cougar to finish, and she did so in 21:10.6 to take 170th overall.
“The conditions were terrible—windy, freezing cold—but that didn’t affect us at all,” Taylor said. “The girls just had such a good mindset going into the race. They were motivated, they knew they had worked hard and were prepared to compete, and they took care of business.”
The team’s 10th-place finish is the highest finish for the BYU women's cross country since 2005. They spent four weeks of the season ranked in the top 20 and finish the season as the 10th-best team in the nation.
“I’m super excited to have this happen in my first season, and I am so grateful for these women and what they have done and how they rep the Y. Obviously, this is a huge thing for our program,” Taylor concluded.
The results on both the men's and women's teams mark the first time since 1995 that both the men’s and women’s cross country teams finished in the top 10 at Nationals, when the women finished in fourth place and the men took 10th.
PROVO, Utah—The No. 4 BYU men’s cross country and No. 28 women’s cross country teams win bids to Terre Houte, Indiana to compete in the 2016 Division I NCAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 19.
After the men’s third place finish at the 2016 Mountain Region Championships, the men took the first at-large bid for nationals.
“It’s going to be tough—toughest race of the year with the strongest competition and the most teams we’ve face in one swoop,” BYU cross country men’s head coach Ed Eyestone said. “If the guys can run and execute as they have all year, then we will be in a good position. We will be going against the best in the nation and there are about seven teams rivaling that will be strong contenders going for the top spots at the race.”
Some of the teams the men will be facing include No. 1 Northern Arizona University, No. 2 Colorado, No. 3 Stanford, No. 5 Syracuse, No. 6 Arkansas and No. 7 Iona.
Coach Eyestone says the strategy for this race will be to have senior Nicolas Montanez finish strong in the top 20 and the rest of the pack finish close behind in the top 30 or 40.
Sophomore Rory Linkletter will be returning this week to race with the team. Along with Linkletter and Montanez, junior Spencer Hanson, sophomore Clayton Young, freshman Brayden McClelland and senior Mitchell Briggs will also be traveling to Indiana.
After finishing in fifth place overall at the Regional Championships, the women’s team received the No. 8 at-large bid to nationals.
Women’s head coach, Diljeet Taylor, is looking forward to focusing on their race this week and plans on the girls executing the improved race strategy. They hope to finish in the top 20 of the competition, and after last week's performance, coach Taylor said the girls are fired up to race with a little bit of a vengeance.
The women competing in the race this weekend include senior Yesenia Silva, sophomore Erica Birk-Jarvis, junior Laura Young, freshman Olivia Hoj, freshman Courtney Wayment, junior Ashleigh Warner and sophomore Alice Jensen will take Emma Gee’s spot on the competing team.
The women will be facing the toughest competition yet this season. Some of the teams at nationals will be No. 1 Colorado, No. NC State, No. 3 Providence, No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 Michigan.
Coach Taylor said their strategy this week will be to go out with the pack for a little bit, be more conservative and relaxed in the first 2-kilometers of the race and then pick it by the end of the 5k.
“Finishing strong is what we're focusing on and not getting too excited," Taylor said. "I’m going to keep them calm but still motivated. You prepare your athlete and you go in with the mindset that its just another race, yes it's a big one, but you have got to keep things in perspective and not lose sigh of the hard work we’ve put in. We have to put our best foot forward and hopefully things come together."
A full list of qualifiers for both men's and women's can be viewed at ncaa.com. The Women's Championship begins at 9:00 a.m. MDT.
For live results, click here.
For live streaming of the competition (for Flotrack members), click here.
For more resources and information, visit the NCAA XC website.