Season opener Autumn Classic relocated to Logan, Utah
PROVO, Utah – The BYU cross country teams will open the 2018 season hosting the Autumn Classic at Utah State University on Saturday, Sept. 15, due to poor air quality in Utah County caused by smoke.
Two large mountain fires in Utah County have filled the valley with smoke, forcing the cross country meet to be relocated from Provo. The Autumn Classic will now take place at Innovation Campus Park Course (1400 N. 800 E.) in Logan, Utah. The women's 5K will start at 9 a.m. MDT followed by the men's 7K at 9:30 a.m. with the high school races starting at 10 a.m.
Along with the Cougars, the Autumn Classic will feature Colorado State-Mesa, Dixie State, Pacific, Santa Clara, Utah, Utah State, Weber State and Westminster.
Both BYU cross country teams enter the first meet of the season ranked nationally in the top 25 with the men’s team ranking No. 2 and the women’s team No. 17. The Cougars aren’t the only top-25 team racing at the Autumn Classic with the 10th-ranked Utah State women’s team and the 15th-ranked NCAA Division II Dixie State men’s team bolstering the competition.
After finishing 11th overall at the 2017 NCAA Championships, the women’s team enters the season ranking in the top 25 nationally for the second-straight year. The Cougars tied for first in the WCC preseason coaches poll with the defending conference champion and national runner-up, San Francisco.
“This meet will give me a good idea of how the team competes and what adjustments we need to make moving forward,” associate head women’s coach Diljeet Taylor said. “Most of the team will run as a pack for the majority of the race. We are in a hard block of training this month, so I expect our athletes to be a little tired from that.”
The return of All-American Erica Birk-Jarvis, who missed the 2017 season, helps reinforce a roster that lost three key seniors last season. Courtney Wayment returns to the team after leading the women’s squad at last year’s WCC Championships and NCAA Championships. Wayment was joined by teammates Olivia Hoj and Sara Musselman on the 2018 All-WCC preseason team.
“Erica returned this year so I am excited and anxious to see how she helps our team,” Taylor said. “We have key returners that are in really good shape as well as a few freshmen that I expect to make an immediate impact this year.”
Women's Team Notables
- The Cougars ranked nationally in the USTFCCCA preseason top 25 for the second-straight season
- All-American Erica Birk-Jarvis and 2017 first-team All-WCC Courtney Wayment return for the 2018 season
- The women's squad has won the Autumn Classic two of the last three seasons (Finished second behind Utah State in 2017)
- Erica Birk-Jarvis was the last BYU women's runner to win the Autumn Classic (2016)
- Three Cougars were named to the All-WCC preseason team (Hoj, Musselman and Wayment)
- BYU shared the No. 1 ranking with defending conference champ San Francisco in the WCC preseason coaches poll
The BYU men’s team starts the season with its highest preseason national ranking in 20 years after finishing third overall at the 2017 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The team was picked as the preseason favorite to win the West Coast Conference for the fourth consecutive year after sweeping the championship race in 2017.
“It is a compliment to be considered one of the powerhouses in the nation, but we also know we have a lot of work ahead,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “We’re returning most of our top-flight guys from last year and this weekend will give us our first competition of the year to sort out the last traveling spots. We’re not taking anything for granted.”
Danny Carney, All-American Rory Linkletter, All-American Connor McMillan, Kramer Morton and Clayton Young were all named to the 2018 All-West Coast Conference preseason team. Eyestone believes freshman Conner Mantz can help fill the role of All-American Casey Clinger, who is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan. Mantz is coming off a successful freshman track and field campaign where he placed 22nd at the 2018 NCAA Championships in the 10,000 meters.
Men’s Team Notables
- Five Cougars were named to the All-WCC preseason team (Carney, Linkletter, McMillan, Morton and Young)
- Rory Linkletter was the 2017 Autumn Classic Champion
- A BYU men's runner has won the Autumn Classic every year since 2008
- Minnesota was the last team to beat the men's squad (2007) at the Autumn Classic
- The men's team has won three-straight regular season cross country meets since 2017
- WCC coaches tabbed the Cougars to win their fourth-straight conference title in the WCC preseason poll
The Cougars will still have the opportunity to race on their home course later this season when they host the WCC Championships and NCAA Mountain Regional at the East Bay Golf Course.