BYU cross country took the NCAA championship by storm with the men’s team winning their first-ever national championship and the women’s team coming in second on Saturday, Nov. 23. It marks the first time in program history that both the men’s and women’s teams placed top-two in the country.
The men’s team came into the tournament ranked third overall behind No. 2 Colorado and No. 1 Northern Arizona — NCAA champions in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The Cougars fought through the mud and rain and came out on top, beating Northern Arizona with a team-low of 109 points followed by NAU with 163 and Colorado 164.
The men’s national title is the first NCAA championship won by a BYU team since the men’s volleyball won the 2004 NCAA Tournament. The year’s team was led by sophomore Conner Mantz, who finished third overall in the men’s 10k with a time of 30:40.0. He recently received All-American honors for the second consecutive season.
Incredible efforts were also seen by the rest of the team with two other BYU runners earning All-Americans honors — Danny Carney who came in 17th with a time of 31:05.7 and Jacob Heslington coming in 21st with a time of 31:10.5.
The women’s team beat No. 2 Stanford by 19 points and claimed second place which, the team hasn’t done in sixteen years. No.1 Arkansas took the National title and overtook BYU by six points finishing with 96 to BYU’s 102.
The women’s team placed three runners in the top seven for the first time in program history. Courtney Wayment and Erica Birk-Jarvis (20:16.1) led the way for the Cougars in fifth and sixth place, and Whittni Orton (20:17.0) finished seventh. They all won All-American titles marking the first time since 2003 that BYU has had three female cross-country runners win All-American accolades.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have worked hard and outdone last year’s performances where the men’s team came in second and the women’s team took seventh place. The teams were led to success by exceptional coaches. The men’s coach Ed Eyestone is the first in NCAA men’s cross country history to win his own individual national title and then coach a team to win a national championship. The women’s coach Diljeet Taylor was named the Mountain Region Women’s Coach of the Year and has led the women’s team to place in the top-10 three times during her four years at BYU.