Both the No. 3 BYU men’s and No. 24 women’s cross country teams qualified for the national meet as a result of the runners’ efforts in the NCAA Mountain Region Championships.
The usual three — Dallin Farnsworth, Aaron Fletcher and Connor McMillan — led the way for the men’s team. The top five runners on the BYU team were all in the top 20 at the two kilometer mark. Farnsworth took the lead of the front pack and Fletcher was right behind him.
The Cougars began to spread apart by the end of the second loop as the top five Cougars were in the top 30. The race finished with Farnsworth in ninth, Fletcher in 16th, McMillan in 17th, Dylan Shawhan in 25th and Mitchell Briggs in 31st. Those finishes gave the Cougars 98 points and a third place finish. Colorado unsurprisingly took first, but the University of Texas El Paso shocked everyone with a second place finish.
The team perfectly fulfilled its game plan by earning a spot in the national meet next week without having to waste too much energy. LetsRun.com has the Cougars as the first at-large bid for the national meet.
The women’s team placed fourth in the meet behind strong efforts from Natalie Shields-Connolly and Carrie Jube. The Cougars ran in a pack to start the race and had four in the top 25 at the halfway mark. Shields-Connolly broke into the top 20 shortly thereafter. The Cougars were still running in a pretty tight pack with the top four in 19th, 20th, 21st and 28th with two kilometers to go. The pack separated closer to the finish line with Shields-Connolly finishing 18th, Jube 25th, Jennica Redd 26th, Yesenia Silva 27th and Alice Jensen 35th.
The Cougars finished fourth behind first place Colorado, second place New Mexico and third place Utah. The women had to finish in first or second for an automatic bid to the national meet, but both FloTrack and LetsRun.com have the Cougars as a projected at-large qualifier.
The national meet is next week in Louisville, Kentucky.