BYU cross country finishes third and 11th at NCAA National Championships
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – BYU men’s cross country finished third with 165 points and the women finished 11th with 342 points at the NCAA National Championships on a windy Saturday morning at the E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park.
The men competed in a 10K and the women ran a 6K.
“I was proud of the way the team battled even though we fell short of the national championship,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. "We would have needed to be perfect to beat NAU today and that was not the case."
Freshman Casey Clinger led the pack with a 24th place finish (29:46.32). He was followed by Connor McMillan in 30th (29:52.29), Rory Linkletter in 39th (29:59.04), Daniel Carney in 42nd (30:03.5) and Kramer Morton in 65th (30:21.64). Jonathan Harper and Clayton Young also competed for the Cougars.
"True freshman Casey and Connor ran together most of the race up front to nab All-American honors," Eyestone said. "Rory is a natural frontrunner and he had to dig down and scrap when he wasn't having his best day but he still managed All-America honors. Daniel just missed All-America honors in coming up big time as our fourth. Without his efforts, we might not have made the podium. Kramer worked the last half of the course to bring in the needed support as our fifth."
The No. 2 ranked Cougars competed against the top-rated teams in the country including the defending champions No. 1 Northern Arizona, which came in first again this year. BYU’s third-place finish was the second-best finish in program history and the best since its second-place finish in 1993.
"It's been a great and historic season," Eyestone said. "We've been ranked higher in the polls longer than any past season. This is my best team ever and the second best in BYU history. When you come up a little short at the meet at the end of the year it's disappointing but when you focus on all the good things that have happened in terms of the victories and conference titles you realize how blessed we have been. The good news is that four of our top-five are returning for next year."
“I think the ladies performed really well today,” associate head women’s coach Diljeet Taylor said. "Our focus going into the race was just to focus on keeping the pack tight and I think we had like a 20 second gap between one and five which is the closest gap we've had all season long. I'm pretty pleased with finishing right there at 11th in the country."
Courtney Wayment led the charge for the No. 14 women with a 71st place finish (20:29.38). Kristi Rush followed in 76th (20:31.39) with Laura Young in 80th (20:34.06), Ashleigh Warner in 114th (20:49.84) and Whittni Orton in 115th (20:50.6). Olivia Hoj and Sara Musselman also ran for the Cougars. Due to an earlier injury, this was Orton's first time racing for the Cougars and her first collegiate race ever.
"For Whittni to come in at the national championship and run her first race and be our number five girl was very impressive," Taylor said. "And Kristi had her best race of the season today and I'm super proud of how she fought for the team."
The Cougars started the race slow but were able to regain ground in order to finish in the top-15.
"We had a slow start in the beginning of the race," Taylor said. "We didn't get out as well as we planned. I think at our first split we were in 18th place and the ladies did a really good job of working together and working really hard for the next 5,000 meters to finish and end up at 11th. They continued to move up throughout the entire race. We didn't really have a frontrunner. What we had today were seven women who worked together and led the team."
This was the first time since 2004 and 2005 that the women have had back-to-back top-15 finishes. The No. 14 Cougars managed to beat out some of the top-ranked teams including No. 6 Arkansas, No. 9 Providence, No. 10 Penn State and No. 13 Villanova.
"We were ranked 14th coming in and we superseded all of our rankings from FloTrack and the Coaches Association so we're really happy with that," Taylor said.
BYU cross country to compete for national title
PROVO, Utah – The BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in the NCAA National Championships Saturday at the E.P. Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The women will compete in a 6k and the men will follow with a 10k.
The Cougar men qualified for the championships by finishing second at the Mountain Region Championships to claim an automatic bid. The women advanced to the NCAA meet via an at-large bid following a strong showing at the Mountain Region Championships where they took third place.
“We are excited for the prospect of a national championship,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. “This has been the best year in BYU men’s cross country history thus far. I think we ran just hard enough at the regional championships to prepare us for big things at nationals.”
Following a win at the Pre-Nationals Invitational and a perfect-score finish at the West Coast Conference Championships, the No. 2 men’s team is ready to compete at the national level. The Cougars will face the top-rated teams in the country including the defending champions No. 1 Northern Arizona.
“We know that there are some very strong teams out there, but I feel like if we are running on all cylinders we can win,” Eyestone said. “I have supreme confidence in my top-four mixing it up with the best in the country. I know that they have great support from my fifth, sixth and seventh runners. They are the best 5-6-7 in the country. Put that together on a good day and you can do some damage.”
Seven runners will represent the Cougars in Kentucky. These runners include Rory Linkletter, Clayton Young, Connnor McMillan, Casey Clinger, Danny Carney, Kramer Morton and Jonathan Harper. The BYU men have yet to win a national title. The best result at the NCAA National Championships in program history was a second-place finish in 1993.
All seven of BYU's runners earned All-WCC First Team honors while Linkletter, McMillan and Morton earned all-region honors.
A third-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships vaulted the women’s team to No. 14 in the national rankings.
“We are coming off a good regional meet and heading into nationals with good momentum,” associate head women’s coach Diljeet Taylor said.
The women will be taking on the top-rated teams in the country including No. 1 Colorado and the defending champions No. 6 Oregon.
Seven runners will represent the Cougars at the race. They are Laura Young, Courtney Wayment, Ashleigh Warner, Olivia Hoj, Kristi Rush, Sara Musselman and Whittni Orton. Young and Wayment consistently finish as two of BYU's top finishers.
"I expect Laura and Courtney to continue to lead the team with Olivia, Ashleigh and Kristi close by," Taylor said. "Our top-five are doing a great job of staying connected and that will be key in this championship race. Our freshman Sara has been solid and we are excited to watch her compete. Whittni will be running her first cross country race of the season as she had an early season injury and has made a comeback. We are anxious to get her out with the team and see how and where she fits into the group."
Wayment and Young were named to the All-WCC First Team while Hoj, Warner and Rush were named to the second team. Four Cougars, including Young, Wayment, Hoj and Warner, earned all-region recognition
The NCAA National Championships will take place at the E.P. Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky on Nov. 18. The women's race will begin at 9 a.m. ET and the men will follow at 10 a.m. ET. Live results can be found here. FloTrack will live stream the race here.