BYU’s Conner Mantz is chasing his second consecutive NCAA Cross Country title in Tallahassee (Florida) on 20th November. If he achieves this feat, Mantz would become the 13th man to win multiple NCAA Cross Country titles.
Mantz won the 2020 edition of the NCAA Cross country Championships, which were held in March 2021 after being postponed due to the pandemic. He is unbeaten and has won seven consecutive races, including the past edition of the NCAA Championships, where he beat South Africa’s Adriaan Wildschutt of Florida State, Wesley Kiptoo of Iowa State and Nico Young of Northern Arizona.
Mantz has been undefeated this autumn season beating Kiptoo at Roy Griak on 24 September and Wildschutt at the Pre-Nationals three weeks later. Last week Mantz also beat Nico Young at the Mountain Regionals.
Kiptoo won the NCAA Indoor title in the 5000m last March in a meeting record of 13:23.77. He has run seven cross country races since enrolling at Iowa State last year.
Wildschutt has run PBs of 13:28.97 in the 5000m and 27:48.89 in the 10000m and will compete on home soil. The South African runner finished eighth at the NCAA outdoor Championships on the track in Eugene. He will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Morgan McDonald, who won the NCAA title in 2018 on home soil.
Oregon’s Cooper Teare won the 5000m NCAA title this season and was less than a second from making the US Olympic team in the 5000m in Eugene. The 22-year-old US runner set PBs of 3:35.97 in the 1500m and 13:12.27 in the 5000m at the NCAA Championships in Eugene and won the NCAA outdoor over the longer distance.
Northern Arizona’s 19-year-old Nico Young finished fourth at the 2020 NCAA Cross Country Championships, the best finish by an American freshman since Dathan Ritzenheim in 2001. Young set a PB of 13:24.26 breaking the American Junior 5 km record held by German Fernandez with 13:25.45.
In the women’s race Mercy Chelangat is aiming to win her second consecutive NCAA Cross Country title. Following this victory Chelangat had a solid track season. She clocked 15:17.79 in the 5000m in Fayetteville in 2021 and finished second in the 10000m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene behind Carmela Cardanna Baez of Oregon last June.
Chelangat has won three consecutive cross country races at the Joe Piane Invitational, SECs, and the South Regional.
Chelangat will face Whittni Orton, who finished seventh at the NCAA Cross Country Championships two years ago, Cheili McCabe from Canada, sixth at the NCAA Championships in the 3000 steeplechase in 9:37.39 last June, Abby Nichols, who won the Pre-Nationals and dominated the Pac-12 with a 11-second gap, Taylor Roe, who finished a surprising second at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last March and took a top-three at every race, including a third place at Nuttycombe and at the Pac 12 and lost twice to McCabe, and Kelsey Chmiel, ninth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last March.