Friday, April 16, 2021

BYU cross country runners celebrate their WCC championships in front of the title banner. The men's and women's teams took home first place and look to make a run at a national championship in March. (BYU Athletics)

Olympic overview: Cross country teams sweep WCC championships, men’s volleyball makes history

The BYU cross country teams continued their sustained excellence with first-place finishes at the West Coast Conference championships and several other BYU teams were in action around the country.

Cross country

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams took first place in the WCC championships on Feb. 24. The titles marked a six-year streak for the men’s team and a three-year streak for the women’s team.

The men’s team had a score of 25 in the first-place finish with six Cougars finishing in the top 10.

Junior Conner Mantz led the way, finishing first overall with a 22:54.4 time.

Five others finished in the top 10 for BYU.

The women’s team finished in first with a score of 28 and four Cougars finished in the top 10.

Sophomores Aubrey Frentheway and Anna Camp earned medal places, finishing second and third, respectively.

The men’s and women’s teams will look to add more silverware at the NCAA championships on March 15 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The men’s team is aiming to win back-to-back national championships, while the women’s team looks to win a national championship after finishing as runner-ups last season.

Track and field

Nine Cougars moved up the BYU all-time rankings in the last week of the indoor track season at the Husky Classic and the Championships at the Peak on Feb. 25-27.

Five Cougars moved up in the women’s mile, with senior Courtney Wayment moving into second in BYU history with a 4:30.47 time, good for the best time in the nation this season.

In the men’s mile, freshman distance runner Lucas Bons’ time of 3:55.45 moved him into second all-time in BYU history.

Junior mid-distance runner Claire Seymour moved into second all-time in BYU history in the women’s 800-meter race with a 2:02.20 time, the second-best time in the nation this season. Wayment also moved up in BYU history in the 800-meter, posting the 10th best time at 2:05.76.

Sophomore high-jumper Cierra Tidwell-Allphin cracked the top 10 in the women’s high jump with a 1.80 meters mark to tie for 10th place in BYU history.

The next meet for the track and field teams will be the NCAA indoor track and field championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas on March 11-13.

Gymnastics

The No. 11 BYU gymnastics team narrowly beat No. 22 Utah State 196.926-196.6 on Feb. 26, posting the highest floor score at BYU since 2003 in the process.

The Cougars were trailing by .175 heading into the final rotation: the floor routines. BYU came through to take home the victory, posting the sixth-best floor score in program history with a 49.6.

Junior floor specialist Brittney Vitkausas (9.950) and senior vaulter and floor specialist Avery Bennett (9.925) posted career-bests in BYU’s comeback effort. 

Junior vaulter and floor specialist Rachel Bain-Heaton tied her career high in floor with a 9.850. Bain-Heaton also had a career night in vault, posting a 9.800.

Senior all-around Abbey Milner-Alder led her team in floor with a season-high 9.975.

Men’s volleyball

No.1 BYU spilt its first road series of the season against No. 9 Grand Canyon on Feb. 25 and 27.

The Cougars got swept by GCU in the opening match of the weekend series.

The second set became the longest in NCAA history at 88 total points, beating the previous record by two points. The Cougars lost the marathon set 45-43.

The Cougars were unable to respond in set three, dropping the set 25-10.

Senior Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the team with 15 kills and two aces.

The Cougars then dominated the Antelopes in a sweep in the second match of the week. BYU cruised through the match, winning each set by six-or-more points.

The Cougars came out strong in the first two sets, winning set one and two 25-19.

BYU was able to cap off the strong start by beating GCU 25-13 in set three.

Garcia Fernandez and Davide Gardini led the Cougars with 11 kills each in the win. Sophomore Teilon-Jonathan Tufuga finished the match with a career-high five kills.

Women’s volleyball

No. 12 BYU split the road series against Pepperdine 1-1 on Feb. 23-24, suffering its first loss of the season in the process.

The Cougars were able to rebound from getting swept the night before by beating Pepperdine 3-2 on Feb. 24.

Sophomore setter Whitney Bower played well in the match, getting eight kills, three aces, 46 assists and 26 digs in the match.

Baseball

BYU split the season-opening series 2-2 against Texas State and won the final game in a four-game series against the University of Texas in Austin.

The Cougars beat Texas State 7-6 in extra innings on Feb. 23.

Senior Mitch McIntyre, usually the starting centerfielder, came in clutch as a pitcher as he threw three innings with no baserunners allowed and two strikeouts.

Junior infielder Austin Deming gave BYU the go-ahead score off of a sacrifice fly to bring sophomore infielder Andrew Pintar home.

In the finale of the UT series, the Cougars mounted a five-run sixth inning to win 5-4 on Feb. 27. BYU was trailing 4-0 before a Pintar single started the BYU comeback.

McIntyre, Deming and junior catcher Joshua Cowden hit consecutive singles to cut the score to 4-1.

BYU took the lead off of sophomore infielder Brock Watkins’ two RBI single.

Junior right-handed pitcher Reid McLaughlin and McIntyre combined for four scoreless innings to close out the game for BYU. Only one hit was allowed from the duo during the four-inning stretch.

Softball

The Cougars won one game out of four in the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson, Arizona. BYU beat Seattle University and dropped games against Oregon State and No. 3 Arizona.

Senior outfielder Rylee Jensen-McFarland displayed a strong hitting performance over the four-game strech, going 4-of-12 with a home run and 2 RBIs.

BYU returns to action at the Stanford Invitational, taking place March 4-6.

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