The BYU men’s and women’s cross-country teams will compete in the NCAA National Championships on Saturday at the E.P. Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The women will compete in a 6k, while the men will follow with a 10k.
The Cougar men qualified for the championships by finishing second at the Mountain Region Championships to claim an automatic bid. The women advanced to the NCAA meet via an at-large bid following a strong showing at the Mountain Region Championships where they took third place.
“We are excited for the prospect of a national championship,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. “This has been the best year in BYU men’s cross-country history thus far. I think we ran just hard enough at the regional championships to prepare us for big things at nationals.”
Following a win at the Pre-Nationals Invitational and a perfect-score finish at the West Coast Conference Championships, the No. 2 men’s team is ready to compete at the national level. The Cougars will face the top-rated teams in the country, including the defending champions No. 1 Northern Arizona.
“We know that there are some very strong teams out there, but I feel like if we are running on all cylinders we can win,” Eyestone said. “I have supreme confidence in my top-four mixing it up with the best in the country. I know that they have great support from my fifth, sixth and seventh runners. They are the best 5-6-7 in the country. Put that together on a good day and you can do some damage.”
Seven runners will represent the Cougars in Kentucky. These runners include Rory Linkletter, Clayton Young, Connnor McMillan, Casey Clinger, Danny Carney, Kramer Morton and Jonathan Harper. The BYU men have yet to win a national title. The best result at the NCAA National Championships in program history was a second-place finish in 1993.
All seven of BYU's runners earned All-WCC First-Team honors while Linkletter, McMillan and Morton earned all-region honors.
A third-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships vaulted the women’s team to No. 14 in the national rankings.
“We are coming off a good regional meet and heading into nationals with good momentum,” associate head women’s coach Diljeet Taylor said.
The women will be taking on the top-rated teams in the country, including No. 1 Colorado and the defending champions No. 6 Oregon.
Seven runners will represent the Cougars at this race. They are Laura Young, Courtney Wayment, Ashleigh Warner, Olivia Hoj, Kristi Rush, Sara Musselman and Whittni Orton. Young and Wayment consistently finish as two of BYU's top finishers.
"I expect Laura and Courtney to continue to lead the team with Olivia, Ashleigh and Kristi close by," Taylor said. "Our top five are doing a great job of staying connected and that will be key in this championship race. Our freshman Sara has been solid and we are excited to watch her compete. Whittni will be running her first cross-country race of the season as she had an early season injury and has made a comeback. We are anxious to get her out with the team and see how and where she fits into the group."
Wayment and Young were named to the All-WCC First Team while Hoj, Warner and Rush were named to the second team. Four Cougars, including Young, Wayment, Hoj and Warner, earned all-region recognition
The women's race begins at 10:45 a.m. ET, and the men follow at 11:45 a.m. FloTrack will live stream the race.
Jenessa Mann works as a Sports Information Director for BYU Athletics. Contact her at: [email protected]