Young Women General Presidency hosts BYU women’s distance national champions
SALT LAKE CITY – The Young Women General Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted the BYU women’s cross country championship squad and the women’s track and field distance medley relay team to celebrate the program’s recent national titles.
Hosted at the end of April in the Relief Society Building located on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, the event included a guided tour of the historic building and a luncheon with Young Women General President Sister Bonnie H. Cordon and her first counselor Sister Michelle Craig.
As part of the tour of the building, the guide shared the story of how members of the Church in the 1940s raised funds for the construction of the Relief Society Building. These efforts included asking each member of the Relief Society to donate $5 and that the Church would match each donation dollar for dollar.
“The idea of getting funds to complete the building was very inspiring to me because there is a direct correlation to what we’re doing now within our program,” said BYU women’s cross country coach and associate director of track and field Diljeet Taylor. “Each Relief Society member contributed $5, so everybody had a part in constructing this grand building. Everyone is contributing, and has contributed, to build our program this year. These national titles weren’t just the women that raced, it was all the women who have contributed over the years.”
During the luncheon, Sister Cordon and Sister Craig shared their thoughts and emotions as they celebrated the multiple national title performances.
“It was very meaningful to the team to have the presidency tell our women how proud they were and how excited they were watching the races,” Taylor said. “It meant a lot that they took time out of their day and shared their personal pride in what these women accomplished.”
The runners were invited to share their thoughts on their personal performances during the season and how the sport has impacted them spiritually.
“It meant a lot to have the Young Women General Presidency invite us,” said cross country All-American Aubrey Frentheway. “One highlight for me was how we told our experiences and then shared how we have come closer to Christ through the race or season. I liked how they helped us relate running to the gospel.”
All seven members of the 2020-21 NCAA cross country championship team were present, including Anna Camp-Bennett, Frentheway, Lexy Halladay, Haley Johnston, McKenna Lee Hansen, Sara Musselman, and Whittni Orton.
The four members of the 2021 national champion distance medley relay team also attended, including Alena Ellsworth, Lauren Ellsworth-Barnes, Olivia Hoj Simister and Courtney Wayment. Along with winning the DMR, Wayment also claimed the 2021 national title in the 3000m.
The student-athletes were joined by coach Taylor, who the USTFCCCA named the 2020-21 Women’s National Coach of the Year in cross country, and BYU senior associate athletic director/senior woman administrator Liz Darger. In addition to her responsibilities within the BYU athletic department, Darger also serves on the Young Women General Advisory Council.
The Young Women organization helps young women build faith in Jesus Christ and strengthen their families, the Church, and their communities now and in the future. The Young Women General Presidency directs this organization for the whole Church.