Erica Birk-Jarvis and Conner Mantz finished in the top 10 of their respective races to help propel BYU cross-country to a men’s second-place finish and a women’s seventh-place finish at the NCAA National Championships at Thomas Zimmer Championship Course.
This marks the first time in school history that the men’s and women’s teams finished inside the top seven at the national meet. The men’s second-place finish matched their No. 2 national ranking heading into the race, while the women placed two spots higher than their No. 9 ranking.
“We had a team performance that got us second place,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “I’m pleased with the overall effort of the team. It has been an emphasis all year long. We’ve wanted to run as a falanga, which is Greek for phalanx, which is where you support your teammates.”
Mantz raced similarly to his Pre-Nationals performance, pushing the pace while leading the men’s pack for the majority of the race before taking 10th. All-Americans Rory Linkletter and Connor McMillan crossed next for the Cougars finishing 22nd and 24th, respectively. Clayson Shumway used a final kick to fend off potential passers to place 32nd overall with Jacob Heslington finishing 50th for BYU’s final scoring position.
"I’m very pleased with Conner Mantz for putting himself out there and leading for most of the race,” Eyestone said. “Whenever you have a teammate that is doing that up front, it makes you want to rise up and run that way as well.”
For the first time in school history, the BYU men’s team had four members of the team receive All-America honors with Linkletter, Mantz, McMillan and Shumway finishing in the top 40. The Cougars also had their best team performance at nationals in BYU history with a low score of 116 points and a second-place finish.
“The fact we had four All-Americans; that’s the type of performance you need to finish as high as we did,” Eyestone said. “As a result of the All-Americans’ efforts, we were able to get that second-place performance.”
BYU associate head women’s coach Diljeet Taylor was also pleased with how his team raced today.
“I’m ecstatic with how we finished today,” Taylor said. “Halfway through the race, I saw the ladies racing with such heart. I’m very proud of their performance and how we ended the season.”
Birk-Jarvis ran with the front pack for the whole race before crossing the finish line seventh overall, leading the Cougars to take seventh with 310 points. Courtney Wayment finished close behind Birk-Jarvis in 23rd place for BYU. Both runners received All-America honors for their top-40 finish, the first time since 2003 that the women’s team has had multiple All-Americans.4 comments on this story
“Erica put herself in it and gave it all she had,” Taylor said. “I’m so proud of the grit she showed and the passion she showed. How Courtney raced just goes to show you how tough she is. She had bad stomach flu earlier this week and was in the ER. If anyone could bounce back from that, it would be Courtney.”
Olivia Hoj scored next for the Cougars when she placed 83rd overall. In her first collegiate race, freshman Sadie Sargent came in 124th and was the fourth BYU runner to finish. Fellow freshman Aubrey Frentheway rounded out BYU’s five scorers placing 150th overall.