BYU men's cross-country secured its spot in the NCAA Championships with a second-place finish, while the women made a strong case for an at-large bid by taking third at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships at the Steve and Dona Reeder Cross Country Course on Friday.
The men ran a 10K, and the women ran a 6K. This was the first time in NCAA Division I history that a Regional Championship featured the top-two nationally-ranked men’s and women’s programs.
“Our goal coming in was to qualify for the NCAA Championships, and I think we did just that,” head coach Ed Eyestone said.
Rory Linkletter finished first for the Cougars and second overall with a time of 30:14.6. Connor McMillan followed in fourth place (30:17.3) with Kramer Morton in 20th (30:51.8), Brayden McLelland in 26th (30:56.1) and Clayton Young in 27th (31:03.3) rounding out the group. Linkletter, McMillan and Morton were each named All-Region.
"It was a very nice run up front by Rory and Connor," Eyestone said. "Kramer really had his best race of the year, and we were able to sit out three of our guys that we will bring in fresh for the NCAA Championships. NAU is a very good team, and it was great to see them run. We are excited at the prospect of going full strength next week in Louisville."
The No. 2 men’s team finished behind No. 1 Northern Arizona and ahead of No. 5 Colorado, No. 8 Colorado State, No. 12 Southern Utah, No. 16 Air Force and No. 23 Utah State. BYU and Northern Arizona claimed the automatic bids from the Mountain Region.
“I'm so proud of how the ladies executed the race plan today,” associate head women’s coach Diljeet Taylor said. "They focused on the task at hand and took care of business."
Laura Young led the charge for the Cougars with a ninth-place finish (20:22.1). This was her fourth time finishing first for BYU this season. Courtney Wayment finished 22nd (20:42.9), Olivia Hoj finished 24th (20:55.7) and Ashleigh Warner followed in 25th place (20:55.7). All four were named All-Region. Kristi Rush rounded out the group by finishing 33rd (21:03.2).
"Laura had a great performance to lead the team with her top-10 finish," Taylor said. "To have four All-Region finishes in our tough region is impressive. We were focused on our team and closed the race exactly like we talked about."
The No. 18 women’s team competed against some of the top teams in the nation, including No. 1 Colorado, No. 2 New Mexico, No. 15 Utah State and No. 29 Northern Arizona. BYU finished behind Colorado and New Mexico but beat out Utah State for its third-place finish.
The Cougars head to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 18, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Jenessa Mann works as a Sports Information Director for BYU Athletics. Contact her at: [email protected]