BYU Cross Country runners Aubrey Frentheway, Julie Sumsion and Sara Musselman lead the women's team. The BYU team placed first overall in their first 5k of the season. (Dallin Wilks)

Teamwork leads BYU cross country to victory at first meet of season

From the adrenaline of the first stretch to the sweaty sinews of the last exhilarating push for the finish line, the BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams took away great wins from the first meet of the season at the Autumn Classic at Timpanogos Golf Club in Provo.

Women’s team

BYU runners Aubrey Frentheway and Kate Hunter lead their first race of the season. The BYU women’s cross country team placed first overall in today’s meet, winning ten of the top 11 individual spots. (Dallin Wilks)

The women’s team took first place overall in the 5K race against Dixie State and College of Southern Idaho. Ten of the first 11 individual finishers were BYU runners. BYU’s Aubrey Frentheway won with a time of 17:39. Placing second through ninth were Kate Hunter, Anna Martin, Haley Johnston, Sara Musselman, Carmen Alder, Madi Moffitt, Julie Sumsion and Heather Hanson. Reagan Gardner finished in 11th.

Also representing BYU today were Rachel Morrin and Elizabeth Dildine.

Women’s coach Diljeet Taylor said working on team chemistry is a huge part of the women’s training.

“I was very, very pleased with our lineup and how close they were together,” Taylor said. “A lot of the focus on today’s race was just for them to work together and have fun in a low-pressure environment, and I think they executed that perfectly.”

Frentheway, a junior, gave credit to Musselman for pacing the team and keeping the pack together. 

“Even during the race I was just so happy because I was with my whole team,” Frentheway said. “It makes it so much more enjoyable when you can work together instead of against each other.”

The women’s team entered the season ranked first in the NCAA Mountain Region after winning the national championship last season. The 2021 West Coast Conference preseason poll also ranked BYU in first place, with BYU runners claiming six out of 11 spots on the Preseason All-WCC team: Anna Camp-Bennett, Frentheway, McKenna Lee Hansen, Martin, Musselman and Whittni Orton. Martin is also returning this year as reigning WCC Freshman of the Year.

The women’s team will compete Sept. 17 at Florida State University in Tallahassee. 

Men’s team

Conner Mantz takes the lead in the first cross country race of the season. The BYU men’s team placed first overall today with individual victories in first, third and fifth place. (Dallin Wilks)

The BYU men’s cross country team took first overall in the 7.5K race, beating Weber State University and Dixie State University. BYU’s Conner Mantz took a strong lead at 22:17, beating Weber’s Christian Allen with his time of 22:32. BYU’s Aidan Troutner took third place followed by Brandon Garnica in fifth place. 

Also representing BYU were Lucas Bons, Adam Wood, Creed Thompson, Zac Jacklin and Justin Hartshorn.

“It’s a good opener for us,” men’s coach Ed Eyestone said of the race. “It shows that we’re strong.” 

Eyestone said Mantz, a junior, delivered exactly as he expected with his “aggressive” pull to first place.

“It’s not a matter of if he’s going to be in the lead, it’s a matter of when he’s going to be in the lead,” Eyestone said in a press release. “He’s going to be in a position to run with the best guys in the country again.” 

Mantz, reigning NCAA Division I and West Coast Conference Individual Champion, expressed gratitude for his win and spoke highly of his team. 

“We have a really young team with a lot of room for them to step up,” Mantz said. “I want to do whatever I can to help them out to win the national title or at least to be as tight as we can on that podium.” 

BYU ranked first in the 2021 WCC Men’s Cross Country Preseason Poll with four out of ten spots on the Preseason All-WCC team going to BYU runners: Casey Clinger, Garnica, Mantz and Troutner. The men’s team entered the season ranked second in the NCAA after Northern Arizona.

The men’s team will compete Sept. 24 at the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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