Women’s cross country makes No. 11 ranking

Erica Birk-Jarvis, in first place, races to the finish line at the Autumn Classic. (BYU Photo)

BYU women’s cross country team is ranked No. 11 in the nation after taking first and sweeping nine of the top 10 spots at the Autumn Classic in Logan, Utah, on Sept. 15.

This win raised their ranking six spots to their current position of No. 11 in the NCAA rankings.

Erica Birk-Jarvis
Erika Birk-Jarvis, a junior from Coalville, Utah. (BYU Athletics)

Erica Birk-Jarvis carried the team pulling into first place with a time of 17:00.9 and was awarded the WCC Runner of the Week Honors on Sept. 17 for this performance.

Despite taking off the 2016 season to have her baby, Birk-Jarvis came back strong, scoring her career-best time and winning the Autumn Classic for the second time in her BYU cross country career.

“I was patient,” Birk-Jarvis said. “I know myself better than I did a couple of years ago. I know what pace is good for me to run.”

Birk-Jarvis was an All-American after finishing in the top-40 of the NCAA National Championship in 2016, according to her athletic profile.

Diljeet Taylor
Associate Head Cross Country Coach-Women/Associate Head Track and Field Coach Diljeet Taylor. (BYU Athletics)

“The biggest difference is that Erica Birk is back,” said Coach Diljeet Taylor. “Her and Whittni Orton are kind of like our one and two runners. We are a very young team, and (having them) has really helped some of the other girls.”

Orton finished in second place in the Autumn Classic.

There are nine new freshmen out of the 30 runners on the women’s team. The more experienced runners have a big impact on the way the newer girls run, according to freshman Aubrey Frentheway who finished fifth in the Autumn Classic.

“I was nervous because I knew it was going to be a whole different world, but Courtney definitely helped me —just seeing her was really good,” Frentheway said.

Taylor said what makes the team have such a great dynamic is the support and camaraderie among the girls.

“I think the best thing about our team right now is the sisterhood and the unity that they have,” Taylor said. “That’s going to be huge come November.”

The Cougars have also been working hard during the preseason to prepare, according to Taylor. Laid out on her desk was paperwork of workouts from the previous three years and runner’s times.

“We do some really hard workouts, race simulations and some practices where (the team is) tested both physically and mentally,” Taylor said. “We’re well ahead of schedule. We’re excited about the ranking, but we have a lot of work still left to do.”

In November, both men’s and women’s cross country teams will be competing in their biggest meets of the season at the NCAA championships.

The team will be traveling to Indiana for the Notre Dame Joe Piane Invitational on Sept 28.

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