The no. 2 BYU men’s and no. 14 women’s cross country teams traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the NCAA National Championships at the E.P. Tom Sawyer Park. Two days before the race the teams warmed up on the parts of the course that were not closed off due to standing water and mud, while enjoying the brisk weather.
That evening all of the athletes were invited to attend a dinner banquet at Churchill Downs overlooking the Kentucky Derby racetrack.
One day before the race the sun came out a little to warm up the cold, as the teams were able to familiarize themselves with the course.
Each team met up the night before the race to review the season, go over strategy for the next day and motivate each other.
Cosmo flew in to surprise and support our Cougars on race day.
The temperature did get a little warmer but it was a windy Saturday morning and the races were moved even earlier for fear of lighting and rain.
The women's team came in at 11th place with 342 points. Courtney Wayment led the team for the women with a 71st place finish (20:29.38), followed by Kristi Rush in 76th (20:31.39) with Laura Young in 80th (20:34.06), Ashleigh Warner in 114th (20:49.84) and Whittni Orton in 115th (20:50.6). Olivia Hoj and Sara Musselman also ran for the Cougars. Due to an earlier injury, this was Orton's first time racing for the Cougars and her first collegiate race. This was the first time since 2004 and 2005 that the women have had back-to-back top-15 finishes.
“I think the ladies performed really well today. Our focus going into the race was just to focus on keeping the pack tight and I think we had like a 20 second gap between one and five which is the closest gap we've had all season long. I'm pretty pleased with finishing right there at 11th in the country."
-Associate head women’s coach Diljeet Taylor
The men's team came in 3rd place with 165 points. Freshman Casey Clinger led the team with a 24th place finish (29:46.32), followed by Connor McMillan in 30th (29:52.29), Rory Linkletter in 39th (29:59.04), Daniel Carney in 42nd (30:03.5) and Kramer Morton in 65th (30:21.64). Jonathan Harper and Clayton Young also competed for the Cougars. BYU’s third-place finish was the second-best finish in program history and the best since its second-place finish in 1993.
“I was proud of the way the team battled even though we fell short of the national championship. We would have needed to be perfect to beat NAU today and that was not the case."
-Coach Ed Eyestone
"It's been a great and historic season.We've been ranked higher in the polls longer than any past season. This is my best team ever and the second best in BYU history. When you come up a little short at the meet at the end of the year it's disappointing, but when you focus on all the good things that have happened in terms of the victories and conference titles you realize how blessed we have been. The good news is that four of our top-five are returning for next year."
-Coach Ed Eyestone