- BYU won the women’s race at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships, rescheduled from its original date in fall 2020, with all five runners scoring in the top 41 finishers. For the men’s race, NAU took home the team title, with four of their five runners finishing in the top nine.
- Alabama’s Mercy Chelangat won the women’s individual title, racing the 6,000-meter course in 20:01.
- BYU’s Conner Mantz won the men’s race, covering the 10,000-meter course in 29:26. Behind him was FSU’s Adriaan Wildschutt in 29:48, and Iowa State’s Wesley Kiptoo in 29:54.
BYU won the women’s race at the 2020 NCAA Cross Country Championships (originally scheduled for fall of 2020), scoring 96 points on Monday in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Mercy Chelangat of Alabama won the women’s 6,000-meter individual title by finishing in 20:01, charging into the homestretch after the 5,000-meter mark. Behind her, Taylor Roe of Oklahoma State finished second in 20:06, and Chelangat’s teammate Amaris Tyynismaa finished third in 20:10.
“To come out and do this, for these women to race like this, I’m extremely proud and humbled to be their coach,” BYU coach Diljeet Taylor said on the ESPNU broadcast after the race. “They’re running for something bigger than themselves.”
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In the men’s 10,000-meter race, BYU’s Conner Mantz became the first American man since 2008 to win the individual cross-country title when he crossed the line first in 29:26. No. 2 Northern Arizona won the team championship with 60 points, claiming the program’s fourth victory in five years. 2019 NCAA champions BYU finished seventh overall.
No. 9 Notre Dame had a breakthrough performance, putting all five scorers in the top 23 finishers for an 87-point total, which locked them up as the runners-up. Oklahoma State, with home course advantage, placed third with 142 points.
The championship, which is usually scheduled for the fall, was postponed as a safety precaution amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Women’s 6,000-Meter Race
In the first 1,000 meters of the race, a top pack emerged with Haley Herberg of Washington, Chelangat and Esther Gitahi of Alabama, and Jessa Hanson of Northern Arizona leading the field through the split in 3:05. The No. 9 Lumberjacks also led the team score in the early stage of the race with all five scorers in the top 27.
The first major hill on the course created a shake-up in the team standings with No. 5 NC State jumping ahead of Northern Arizona by the 2,000-meter mark. No. 2 BYU crossed the split in third with senior Whittni Orton leading the Cougars in fourth place.
By 3,000 meters, Orton led a top group of 20 runners, with a chase pack in tow. The Wolfpack held its top position in the team score with BYU gradually closing the gap.
Orton put a few steps on the top group, bringing the field through 4,000 meters in 13:21. Behind her were Tyynismaa, Roe, and Ella Donaghu of Stanford—and for the first time in the race, Stanford entered the top three with 186 points.
Just after 5,000 meters, Orton lost contact with the top group—Tyynismaa, Chelangat, Donaghu, Roe, and Mahala Norris of Air Force—and Chelangat started to pull away from the lead pack, powering into the homestretch solo. The junior reached the finish line unchallenged in 20:01.
After the race, Chelangat told reporters in a virtual mixed zone that she and her teammates followed their coach’s plan to run together through 4,000 meters, and they encouraged each other throughout the series of brutal hills on the course. To finish in the top three with Tyynismaa after prioritizing cross country instead of indoor track felt like a huge success for the junior from Kericho, Kenya.
“I’m proud of my teammates,” she said. “They are amazing. We have been doing a lot of work together with our coach. ... I’m really proud of us.”
In the team title race, the Cougars were led by senior Anna Camp who finished 11th overall, followed by sophomore Aubrey Frentheway in 15th and Orton in 17th. BYU put all five scorers within the top 41, which helped the team improve on its runner-up finish from last year.
The BYU women’s team celebrates after winning the cross-country title.
On Friday and Saturday, the Cougars also saw several major successes on the track at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the team captured a seventh-place overall finish and Courtney Wayment won the 3,000-meter title and anchored the distance medley relay to victory. To compete in both championships, Coach Taylor organized two different training groups for the 2021 indoor track season and postponed cross-country season.
“I really don’t have a ton of words, which is odd for me because normally I have a lot to talk about, but I’m just super proud of them,” Taylor told reporters in a virtual mixed zone. “Coming off of the year and going into COVID, we just really talked a lot about winning the wait. And I think after what we did in indoor and then to come out here in cross country with two separate teams, I think the BYU women definitely won the wait.”
NC State finished second with 161 points, doubling five runners who also competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships. After finishing eighth in the 5,000 meters on Friday, senior Hannah Steelman led the Wolfpack by finishing fifth overall on Monday. And freshman phenom Katelyn Tuohy made her debut at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships with a 24th-place finish.
Led by a 10th-place finish from senior Ella Donaghu, Stanford finished third with 207 points. Arkansas, the 2019 team champions, finished 10th on Monday after several women contributed to the program’s indoor title.
Men’s 10,000-Meter Race
Using the same front-running tactics he used to win the men’s 5,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, Wesley Kiptoo shot to the front of the pack in the first 1,000 meters. Only Mantz dared to go with the Iowa State junior at his blistering pace.
Kiptoo led the field through the 2,000-meter mark with a 5:23 split, and Mantz followed a few paces behind in 5:24. At that point in the team race, No. 1 BYU led the field with 71 points over rivals No. 2 Northern Arizona who came through with 82 points.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 meters, Alex Masai of Hofstra accelerated to bridge the gap between himself and Kiptoo, and he came through the 3,000-meter mark in 8:14 with the Iowa State runner, while Mantz had fallen a few paces behind.
The team race continued to heat up with Northern Arizona jumping ahead of BYU by 20 points at 3,000 meters. The Lumberjacks formed a tight pack holding 41 points at the 4,000-meter mark, far ahead of the Cougars who came through the split with 136 points in third. For the first time in the race, Notre Dame emerged within the top three, reaching the distance with 87 points.
From 6,000 meters on, the Northern Arizona team held its top position with a front pack that took up four of the top nine places. Notre Dame also held its runner-up spot with a tight pack of runners between 10th and 23rd place. Meanwhile, BYU lost its footing as a team over the final 5,000 meters.
In the second half of the race, Mantz and Adriaan Wildschutt of Florida State worked together to catch Kiptoo, battling the hills and windy conditions by trading off the lead position in Stillwater. At 7,000 meters, the top group included Mantz, Kiptoo, Wildschutt, and Masai. Around 8,500 meters, Mantz made his final move to drop the competition, breaking away to complete the remainder of the race solo.
Mantz crossed the line 22 seconds ahead of runner-up Wildschutt who finished in 29:48. Kiptoo followed for third place in 29:54, two days after winning the 5,000 meters in a meet record at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
After his victory, the BYU junior told reporters that he had settled for a third-place finish after Kiptoo and Masai took the pace out in a speedy 8:14 for 3,000 meters, but Wildschutt motivated him to keep pushing.
“[Wildschutt] comes up to me, and is like, ‘Hey we can catch them, let’s work together,’” Mantz said. “That’s what I had on the day and gave it my all. That was a very, very tough race.”
Freshman Nico Young finished fourth overall, leading four Lumberjacks through the first nine spots. According to the USTFCCCA, it’s the first time since 2003 that the men’s team champion had four runners in the top 10. After the race, NAU head coach Mike Smith shared some insight into the resilience required by his runners to “sit in [defeat] for 17 months” after losing to BYU at the 2019 championships and navigating a postponed 2020 season due to the pandemic.
“I’m just so happy for our guys,” Smith said. “This was a race we’ve been waiting for for a long time, and a lot has happened since the last time we were at a national cross-country meet. Before even the outcome, they were just so happy to be competing here today and they ran with a lot of gratitude and joy and that was probably the fuel to the fire.”
Behind the Northern Arizona pack, Notre Dame’s Danny Kilrea led the Fighting Irish with a 10th-place individual finish. His teammates followed to claim four spots in the top 23.
Oklahoma State was led by junior Isai Rodriguez who finished eighth, guiding the Cowboys to a third-place team finish with 142 points.
After four runners competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday and Saturday, Arkansas finished fourth in the team standings with 169 points. Senior Amon Kemboi was the Razorbacks’ fastest athlete on Monday, running through the finish in 30:14 after earning a fourth-place finish in the 3,000 meters and a 13th-place finish in the 5,000 meters at the indoor championships.
Great Foam Rollers for Recovery
Taylor Dutch is a writer and editor living in Austin, Texas, and a former NCAA track athlete who specializes in fitness, wellness, and endurance sports coverage. Her work has appeared in Runner’s World, SELF, Bicycling, Outside, and Podium Runner.
I'm Taylor Dutch, a seasoned writer and editor with a specialization in fitness, wellness, and endurance sports coverage. Over the years, I have extensively covered various aspects of athletics, from race results to in-depth analyses of competitions. My commitment to providing accurate and comprehensive information has earned me a reputation as a reliable source in the field.
Now, let's delve into the article about the NCAA Cross-Country Championships, where BYU and NAU emerged as the victors in the women's and men's races, respectively. The key concepts covered in the article include:
NCAA Cross-Country Championships Overview:
- The championships were rescheduled from the original fall 2020 date due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- BYU won the women's race, scoring 96 points, with all five runners finishing in the top 41.
- NAU secured the men's team title, with four out of five runners finishing in the top nine.
- Alabama's Mercy Chelangat won the women's 6,000-meter individual title in 20:01.
- BYU's Conner Mantz won the men's 10,000-meter race in 29:26, becoming the first American man since 2008 to claim the individual cross-country title.
Women's Race Highlights:
- The women's race saw BYU's senior Anna Camp leading the team to victory, finishing 11th overall.
- Alabama's Mercy Chelangat dominated the race, finishing in 20:01 and leading her team to a notable performance.
- NC State finished second with 161 points, and Notre Dame secured the runners-up spot with 87 points.
Men's Race Highlights:
- In the men's race, Conner Mantz of BYU and Wesley Kiptoo of Iowa State engaged in a close battle early on.
- BYU initially led the team score, but Northern Arizona took control between 2,000 and 3,000 meters, eventually winning the team championship.
- Mantz's final push in the last 1,500 meters secured his victory, finishing 22 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Adriaan Wildschutt of FSU.
- BYU's women's team celebrated a significant victory, showcasing their prowess in both cross-country and indoor track and field championships.
- NAU's men's team, coached by Mike Smith, displayed resilience and joy in their victory after 17 months of waiting.
- Notre Dame and Oklahoma State had noteworthy performances, securing the second and third positions in the men's team standings.
Postponement and COVID-19 Impact:
- The championships were postponed as a safety precaution amid the COVID-19 outbreak, causing a shift from the usual fall schedule.
This comprehensive overview provides insights into the key players, strategies, and outcomes of the NCAA Cross-Country Championships, reflecting my deep understanding of the topic.