BYU cross country accrues preseason honors


SAN MATEO, Calif. – BYU men’s and women’s cross country were voted No. 4 and No. 7, respectively, when the USTFCCCA's Division I Preseason Coaches' Poll was announced Wednesday afternoon.

For the sixth consecutive year, both men's and women's teams also begin the season ranked atop the West Coast Conference.

The league also recognized six BYU athletes on its preseason all-conference team. Casey Clinger, Brandon Garnica and Lucas Bons represented the men with Aubrey Frentheway, McKenna Lee-Hansen and Lexy Halladay-Lowry featured on the women's team. 

A limited number of BYU runners will compete at the UVU Invitational on Thursday, Sept. 1. The Cougars will begin the season in earnest with competition at the Run Elite Invitational at Valley Regional Park in Taylorsville, Utah on Friday, Sept. 9. 

Men's Honors

After a No. 7 finish in the final 2021 USTFCCCA national rankings a season ago, the No. 4 Cougars are joined by three WCC teams in the national poll, rounded out by Portland at No. 15 and Gonzaga at No. 16. Several of BYU's opponents are ranked in the top 25, including No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 6 Wisconsin. The Cougars are invited to compete at both universities, with appearances in Stillwater, Oklahoma. on Sept. 24 for the Cowboy Jamboree and a trip to the Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin on Oct. 14. 

USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Men's Cross Country National Coaches' Poll
1.Northern ArizonaBig Sky
2.Oklahoma StateBig 12
6.WisconsinBig Ten
9.Wake ForestACC
10.Iowa StateBig 12

BYU totaled 62 votes to finish first among voters in the WCC, including six first-place votes. The Zags were voted second in the conference behind the Cougars. This marks the eighth consecutive season that BYU sits atop the WCC preseason poll.

2022 WCC Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll
4.Santa Clara
5.Saint Mary's
6.Loyola Marymount
8.San Francisco
9.San Diego

Three BYU athletes were named to the Preseason All-WCC Team: Casey Clinger, Brandon Garnica and Lucas Bons. Gonzaga, Portland and Santa Clara round out teams from the conference with athletes receiving the preseason honors.

The conference’s nine head coaches were the sole voters.

The honors mark Clinger and Garnica’s third consecutive preseason honors, while Bons debuted on the list after a 2021 campaign that included being named WCC Freshman of the year and All-WCC First Team honors after a fifth-place finish at the WCC Championships last year.

2022 Men's Cross Country Preseason All-WCC Team
Lucas BonsBYUSo.
Casey ClingerBYUSr.
Cathal DoylePortlandGraduate Student
Brandon GarnicaBYUSr.
Yacine GuermaliGonzagaSr.
Zak KirkPortlandSr.
Zach LitoffSanta ClaraJr.
Cullen McEachernGonzagaSr.
James MwauraGonzagaSr.
Will SmithGonzagaSo.

This season, the men’s team will aim for their eighth-straight WCC title equipped with two 2021 All-American athletes in Clinger and Weber State graduate transfer Christian Allen.

Women's Honors

BYU women’s cross country made its fourth consecutive top-10 appearance in the USTFCCCA Preseason Coaches’ Poll when the rankings were released Wednesday. The Cougars finished No. 2 a season-ago with a runner-up result to NC State at the NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country Championships.

USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country National Coaches' Poll
1.NC StateACC
2.New MexicoMountain West
4.Oklahoma StateBig 12
6.Notre DameACC
10.MichiganBig Ten

BYU’s 2022 slate includes competition against several ranked teams. The Cougars will take-on No. 4 Oklahoma State at the Cowboy Jamboree on Sept. 24 and will be hosted by No. 11 Wisconsin at the Nuttycombe Invitational on Oct. 14. WCC foe Gonzaga came in at No. 23, while region and in-state rivals Utah (No. 18) and Utah Valley (No. 27) were ranked as well.

The Cougars will compete to qualify for nationals at the NCAA Mountain Regional in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Friday, Nov. 11. BYU will then battle for its second team national title in three seasons at the NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Saturday, Nov. 19.

WCC coaches voted BYU No. 1 in the conference’s preseason poll for the sixth-straight season. The Cougars won their fourth consecutive conference crown in 2022 with first-place score of 21 points, 43 points ahead of runner-up Gonzaga.

2022 WCC Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll
4.San Francisco
5.Santa Clara
6.Saint Mary's
7.Loyola Marymount
9.San Diego

BYU led the WCC with three athletes on the preseason all-WCC team. 

Frentheway finished fourth at the WCC Championships in 2021 and was conference runner-up in 2020-21. The senior from Cheyenne, Wyoming earned her second career All-American citation last season as she clocked a personal-best 6,000-meter time of 19:55.7 to finish 38th at nationals. Frentheway leads BYU returners with 18 meets’ experience for her collegiate career.

Lee-Hansen’s 13 career meets include two appearances at both NCAA and WCC Championships. The native of North Ogden finished eighth in the league’s women’s 6k title race in 2021 and narrowly missed All-American honors with a time of 20:02.0 at nationals.

Halladay-Lowry clocked a 6k personal-best of 20:17.0 to take fifth at the 2021 WCC Championships and makes her debut on the league's preseason all-conference team in 2022. 

2022 Women's Cross Country Preseason All-WCC Team
Alicia AndersonGonzagaJr.
Aubrey FrenthewayBYUSr.
Kristen GarciaGonzagaSr.
Lexy Halladay-LowryBYUSo.
Emma JenkinsPortlandSr.
Eve JensenSan FranciscoSr.
McKenna Lee-HansenBYUSr.
Laura PellicoroPortlandSo.
Ruby SmeeSan FranciscoJr.
Rayna StanzianoSaint Mary'sJr.