2020-21 cross country season review
Racing in an unprecedented spring cross country season, the BYU women’s cross country team won the 2020 NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma, while Conner Mantz claimed the 2020 individual national title to lead the BYU men’s cross country team to a seventh-place finish.
Women’s Season Review
The BYU women’s cross country team were crowned the 2020 national champions after finishing with a team score of 96 points at the 2020 NCAA Championships held at the Oklahoma State Cross Country Course in March 2021. With five runners finishing in the top 50, the Cougars finished 65 points ahead of the second-place North Carolina State team and with a 111-point margin against the third-place Stanford team. The national title marks the fifth in program history (1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2020), and the first since 2003.
Four Cougars finished in the top 40 and received All-America honors for their performances, the most All-Americans on one BYU team since 2003. Anna Camp-Bennett moved up four spots in the final kilometer of the 6K to cross first for the Cougars and take 11th place (20:28.3). Aubrey Frentheway (20:34.9) and Whittni Orton (20:35.6) finished 15th and 17th overall, respectively, to give the Cougars three of the top 20 finishers.
Sara Musselman (20:51.3) placed 33rd overall while McKenna Lee Hansen (20:59.9) finished 41st, one spot away from All-America status. Haley Johnston (21:38.0) placed 115th and true freshman Lexy Halladay (22:14.6) finished 184th overall to round out the seven BYU runners.
The women’s team claimed the 2020 West Coast Conference title for the third year in a row. The Cougars had four place in the top 10 and another four runners finish 11-16. The women won all four meets they raced in during the 2020-21 season, including the OSU Invitational in October 2020 and the Silver State XC Challenge in February 2021.
Along with its four All-Americans, the BYU women’s team racked up in 2020-21. Associate director of cross country and track and field Diljeet Taylor was named the USTFCCCA National Women’s Coach of the Year, USTFCCCA Mountain Region Coach of the Year and WCC Coach of the Year. The women’s team was also named the USTFCCCA National Scholar Team of the Year.
Camp-Bennett, Frentheway, Lee Hansen, and Musselman all received All-WCC First Team honors while Halladay, Johnston, and Anna Martin were named to the All-WCC Second Team. The top freshman finisher at the league championships, Martin was also recognized as the WCC Freshman of the Year.
Men’s Season Review
Mantz dominated the field late in the men’s 10K at the 2020 NCAA Championships held at the Oklahoma State Cross Country Course in March 2021. The three-time All-American patiently remained with the lead pack before picking up the pace in the final kilometer. The junior’s burst of speed on the difficult course proved too much for the other competitors as Mantz created a cushion of a couple of hundred meters between him and the next runner as he approached the final stretch. Crossing the finish line in 29:26.1, Mantz beat the second-place runner by 22 seconds.
With the first-place finish, Mantz joins Josh Rohatinsky (2006) and BYU head coach Ed Eyestone (1984) as the only BYU men’s cross country runners to win an individual national title.
Casey Clinger crossed next for the Cougars, taking 13th place (30:19.8) and claiming All-America honors. All-American Brandon Garnica ran aside Clinger up until the final kilometer before heat exhaustion caused him to be pulled from the race with a few hundred meters to go.
The team’s seventh-place finish marked the fifth consecutive season the men have finished in the top 10, including winning the national title last season in 2019. BYU hasn’t finished outside the top 25 at the championship meet since Eyestone took over the program in 2000.
The BYU men’s team claimed its sixth consecutive West Coast Conference title with Mantz winning his second straight individual title. The Cougars had six runners place in the top 10 to comfortably win the league championship. Along with winning the WCC Championships, the men’s team won the Silver State Challenge and the Weber State Invitational in the regular season.
Along with its two All-Americans, the BYU men’s team earned a number of national, regional and national awards in 2020-21. The USTFCCCA named Mantz the National Men’s Athlete of the Year, National Scholar Athlete of the Year and the Mountain Region Athlete of the Year.
Elijah Armstrong, Ethan Cannon, Clinger, Garnica, Mantz, and Aidan Troutner were named to the All-WCC First Team while Clayson Shumway was named to the All-WCC Second Team. The top finisher at the WCC Championships, Troutner was recognized as the WCC Freshman of the Year.