NCAA Men’s XC Champs — Northern Arizona Back On Top

In reclaiming the team title, deep Northern Arizona had 4 of the first 9 runners across the line. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA, March 15 — It was a day for frontrunners in this most unusual year as the ’20 NCAA cross country season finally ended in ’21.

Northern Arizona got out quickly, stayed up front and put on a clinic to win its fourth title in five seasons.

And BYU’s Conner Mantz, who makes no bones about liking to lead and making a 10K race a true 10K rather than a tactical 9K-dawdler with a kick, did what he does best to become the first U.S.-born champ since ’08. He became BYU’s third winner; the first was his coach, Ed Eyestone, in ’84, and the most recent was Josh Rohatinsky in ’06.

The NAU juggernaut, upended in ’19 at Terre Haute by BYU, returned to the top of the podium with up-front pack running that culminated in a 60-point total off a 3-5-6-8-38 adjusted finish. It was the lowest score since Wisconsin’s 37 in ’05.

The Lumberjacks had to hold off surprising Notre Dame, whose 87 points came off adjusted 9-18-19-20-21 placings; for good measure, the Irish had 6 runners (and 6 all-Americas) in before any other team’s No. 5 man for their best finish since their sole championship in ’57. Host Oklahoma State (142) claimed 3rd, Arkansas (181) 4th and Stanford (194) 5th.

But it was NAU’s meet to lose as Michael Smith’s crew, clad in black (“I wanted to give them something to get excited about,” said the coach), didn’t waste any time getting after it, with 3 in the top 9 at 3K as NAU held a quick 58-74-98 edge over BYU and Notre Dame.

That early, it wasn’t quite all over but the shouting, and while Notre Dame had a 6-pack that seemed poised to threaten, NAU had built a 41–75 lead by 7K.

Meanwhile, the expected individual battle over the challenging Oklahoma State course materialized from the get-go, as Iowa State junior Wesley Kiptoo set out from the gun to win his second NCAA title in three days after his 5K win at the Indoor. As is his wont, Mantz wasn’t inclined to give the Kenyan a free pass to the win and gamely hung with him early.

Hofstra’s Alex Masai had stealthily entered the mix up front and at the 4K mark had supplanted Mantz in 2nd and, with Kiptoo, had a 5-second gap on the BYU junior as Kiptoo had made little mini-surges, maybe gauging his pursuers’ mettle. Florida State’s Adriaan Wildschutt too had caught up to Mantz. Meanwhile, NAU’s lead 4 were content to just keep hanging in the top 10 and cruise to a team win.

At the halfway point, it was much the same, with the two leaders and the two chasers 3 seconds back. But Kiptoo didn’t or couldn’t break away, as was expected given his quick start, and Mantz moved up next to him with 3K to go. At 8K they were still dead even but Mantz then pushed the pace hard with a 3:00 split and quickly had a 4-second margin on Wildschutt and 5 seconds on Kiptoo.

That was, as they say, all she wrote as Mantz — the chaser having become the chasee and clearly sensing the win — popped a 2:57 closer and won in 29:26.1 over Wildschutt (29:48) and Kiptoo (29:54).

Prize frosh Nico Young led the NAU onslaught in 4th with Blaise Ferro (6th), Abdihamid Nur (7th) and Luis Grijalva (9th) crossing in quick succession. Tulsa’s Patrick Dever interrupted the NAU parade in 5th. Notre Dame’s Danny Kilrea completed the top 10.

Said Mantz in explaining his race strategy, “I held back a bit so I could make sure I could finish strong. Adriaan Wildschutt came up next to me and said, ‘Hey, man, we can catch these guys. Let’s work together.’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, you take the lead for me because I’ve been dying in this wind.’ He took it for a couple hundred meters and I took it for maybe the next thousand. I was very fortunate to have a second wind.”

“We caught up to Wesley Kiptoo and it was a battle between the three of us. At about 8½ someone yelled at me that I had about a second and a half on the field and I was like, ‘This is earlier than I was going to make my move, but maybe the best time is now.’”

Mantz, who’s no shrinking violet in a press conference any more than he is in leading a race, said he kept looking back even after building a lead. “I’ve seen 100-meter leads go before so I was just happy to hold on. We didn’t have the best day as a team but a win for one of us is a win for all of us.”

Smith, who has now coached NAU to 3 titles (and was on board for a fourth as an assistant), alluded to the strangeness of the year and spoke of having his runners keep things in perspective given everything that’s been going on in the world.

“We were just so happy to be out here to see what we were going to be for this day,” he said. “We trained very specifically for it. Some of the guys were banged up a bit. The biggest part of my job is getting them to the starting line. My highest priority is getting them to good places so they can execute on the day.”


NCAA XC MEN’S RESULTS

Stillwater, Oklahoma March 15—

Teams
(adjusted places)

1. Northern Arizona 3–5–6–8–38 (54–129) 60
2. Notre Dame 9–18–19–20–21 (31–193) 87
3. Oklahoma State 7–15–23–30–67 (158–194) 142
4. Arkansas 10–33–34–49–55 (140–175) 181
5. Stanford 13–14–39–60–68 (85–121) 194

6. Tulsa 237; 7. BYU 254; 8. Iowa State 265; 9. Southern Utah 270; 10. Iona 311; 11. Utah State 351; 12. Mississippi 373; 13. Butler 379; 14. Colorado 398; 15. Wake Forest 425; 16. Duke 462; 17. Michigan State 463; 18. Wisconsin 464;
19. Air Force 464; 20. Villanova 468; 21. Portland 472; 22. Georgetown 528; 23. NC State 547; 24. Furman 560; 25. Washington 568; 26. Indiana 572; 27. Gonzaga 591; 28. Charlotte 634; 29. Purdue 741; 30. Syracuse 761.

Individuals
†=not in team scoring
10,000m (252 started, 249 finished)

1. *Conner Mantz (BYU) 29:26.1
2. †*Adriaan Wildschutt’ (Florida State-SA) 29:48.2
3. *Wesley Kiptoo’ (Iowa State State-Ken) 29:54.9
4. ***Nico Young (Northern Arizona) 29:58.3
5. Patrick Dever’ (Tulsa-GB) 29:59.9
6. Blaise Ferro (Northern Arizona) 30:02.0
7. **Abdihamid Nur’ (Northern Arizona-Som) 30:05.3
8. *Isai Rodriguez (Oklahoma State) 30:08.3
9. Luis Grijalva’ (Northern Arizona-Gua) 30:10.2
10. *Danny Kilrea (Notre Dame) 30:11.5
11. Amon Kemboi’ (Arkansas-Ken) 30:14.2
12. Peter Lynch (Tulsa) 30:17.7
13. **Casey Clinger (BYU) 30:19.8
14. ***Charles Hicks’ (Stanford-GB) 30:21.0
15. ***Cole Sprout (Stanford) 30:21.4
16. †Aaron Bienenfeld’ (Cincinnati-Ger) 30:22.0
17. **Alex Maier (Oklahoma State) 30:23.2
18. **Cole Bullock (Mississippi) 30:24.7
19. *Isaac Akers’ (Tulsa-GB) 30:25.4
20. **Dylan Jacobs (Notre Dame) 30:25.6
21. Andrew Alexander’ (Notre Dame-Can) 30:26.4
22. ***Jake Renfree (Notre Dame) 30:26.5
23. Yared Nuguse (Notre Dame) 30:26.6
24. †Devin Meyrer’ (Michigan-Ger) 30:27.9
25. Jack O’Leary’ (Iona-Ire) 30:29.2
26. Ryan Smeeton’ (Oklahoma State-Can) 30:30.8
27. *Zach Facioni’ (Wake Forest-Aus) 30:30.8
28. *Caleb Garnica (Utah State) 30:31.2
29. Ehab El-Sandali’ (Iona-Can) 30:34.9
30. *Mario Garcia Romo’ (Mississippi-Spa) 30:35.2
31. Christian Ricketts (Southern Utah) 30:37.9
32. †Alex Masai’ (Hofstra-Ken) 30:39.1
33. Morgan Beadlescomb (Michigan State) 30:40.3
34. ***Victor Shitsama’ (Oklahoma State-Ken) 30:40.5
35. †**Abdirizak Ibrahim (New Mexico) 30:41.9
36. ***Joshua Methner (Notre Dame) 30:43.5
37. *Simon Bedard’ (Butler-Fra) 30:44.5
38. Luke Meade (Arkansas) 30:44.9
39. †Jonathan Davis (Illinois) 30:46.3
40. Gilbert Boit’ (Arkansas-Ken) 30:46.3
41. Mitchell Day (Iowa State) 30:46.7
42. ***Camren Todd (Utah State) 30:50.2
43. *Barry Keane’ (Butler-Ire) 30:50.4
44. **Brodey Hasty (Northern Arizona) 30:50.9
45. †*Shea Foster (Southeast Louisiana) 30:53.1
46. ***Ky Robinson (Stanford) 30:56.2
47. *Daniel Bernal (Furman) 30:57.1
48. Nate Osterstock (Southern Utah) 31:00.3
49. †Josh Park (Ohio) 31:01.0
50. Waleed Suliman (Mississippi) 31:01.6
51. ***Luke Houser (Washington) 31:01.8
52. *Stefen Rasmuson (Southern Utah) 31:02.1
53. Festus Lagat’ (Iowa State-Ken) 31:02.6
54. Ian Shanklin (NC State) 31:02.9
55. *Yacine Guermali (Gonzaga) 31:03.0
56. *Jamie Dee’ (Iona-GB) 31:03.7
57. *Jacob McLeod (Arkansas) 31:04.2
58. Seth Hirsch (Wisconsin) 31:04.3
59. Alec Hornecker (USA) 31:05.6
60. *Zak Kirk (Portland) 31:06.8
61. **Aaron Las Heras’ (Wake Forest-Spa) 31:07.4
62. **Drew Bosley (Northern Arizona) 31:07.5
63. *Emmanuel Cheboson’ (Arkansas-Ken) 31:07.7
64. *Remi Schyns’ (Butler-Belgium) 31:08.7
65. †Jack Davidson (Santa Clara) 31:09.9
66. **Haftu Strintzos’ (Villanova-Aus) 31:11.0
67. *Josh Phillips’ (Vill-Aus) 31:11.1
68. Alex Miley (Duke) 31:11.5
69. †Alec Sandusky (Cincinnati) 31:11.6
70. †Christopher Alfond (UMass Lowell) 31:11.6
71. †*Ahmed Jaziri’ (Eastern Kentucky-Tun) 31:11.8
72. *D.J. Principe (Stanford) 31:12.3
73. Ben Veatch (Indiana) 31:12.8
74. ***Parker Stokes (Georgetown) 31:13.0
75. †*Nathan Jubran (North Florida) 31:13.4
76. **Nickolas Scudder (UNC Charlotte) 31:14.8
77. *Ryan Ioanidis (Air Force) 31:15.1
78. ***Rowen Ellenberg (Wisconsin) 31:15.5
79. Peter Hogan (Gonzaga) 31:16.7
80. **Kevin Mulcaire’ (Oklahoma State-Ire) 31:17.0
81. †Jackson Mestler (US) 31:19.5
82. Alek Parsons (Stanford) 31:19.5
83. Ethan Cannon (BYU) 31:22.0
84. Clayson Shumway (BYU) 31:23.7
85. *Arjun Jha (Indiana) 31:23.9
86. *Hannes Burger (NC State) 31:24.1
87. **Austin Vancil (USA) 31:24.4
88. Aidan Reed (Southern Utah) 31:24.5
89. Scott Beattie’ (Tulsa-GB) 31:25.6
90. Jacob Klemz (Portland) 31:25.8
91. Thomas Pollard (Iowa State) 31:26.0
92. Haydon Cooper (Utah State) 31:28.5
93. **Ryan Johnson (Air Force) 31:29.6
94. Curtis Eckstein (Purdue) 31:30.0
95. *Ethan Powell (USA) 31:30.3
96. Josh Romine (Duke) 31:30.8
97. *Isaiah Labra (Southern Utah) 31:32.1
98. Olin Hacker (Wisconsin) 31:32.5
99. †Kevin Koski (Illinois State) 31:32.5
100. Callum Bolger (Stanford) 31:33.0
101. **Jonathan Velasco (Wake Forest) 31:33.8
102. Joe Riordan (Michigan State) 31:34.0
103. Scott Johnson (Air Force) 31:34.1
104. *Isaac Green (Washington) 31:34.9
105. **James Uhlenberg’ (Michigan State-NZ) 31:34.9
106. Paul Dellinger (Duke) 31:35.1
107. Eduardo Herrera (USA) 31:35.4
108. **Bridger Altice (Utah State) 31:35.6
109. *Charlie O’Donovan’ (Villanova-Ire) 31:36.1
110. †*Duncan Hamilton (Montana State) 31:36.3
111. **Shea Weilbaker (Georgetown) 31:37.2
112. Paul Arredondo (UNC Charlotte) 31:37.8
113. **Damien Dilcher (Iona) 31:38.4
114. **Zach Kinne (Duke) 31:38.8
115. ***Travis Feeny (Southern Utah) 31:39.4
116. *Cameron Ponder (Furman) 31:39.7
117. Paxton Smith (USA) 31:39.7
118. Elijah Armstrong (BYU) 31:40.3
119. *Cathal Doyle’ (Portland-Ire) 31:40.6
120. **Jackson Sharp’ (Wisconsin-Aus) 31:43.9
121. ***Luke Combs (Air Force) 31:48.0
122. *Chad Johnson (Iowa State) 31:50.5
123. †*Ahmed Muhumed (Florida State) 31:53.1
124. **Jake Gebhardt (Indiana) 31:53.9
125. ***Aidan Troutner (BYU) 31:54.1
126. **Carter Coughlin (Wake Forest) 31:54.7
127. ***Dylan Schubert (Furman) 31:55.0
128. Joe Dragon (Syracuse) 31:56.7
129. *Jack Salisbury (Georgetown) 31:56.8
130. **Ezekiel Rop’ (Iowa State-Ken) 31:57.0
131. Stan Niesten’ (Portland-Neth) 31:59.1
132. Nick Steele (Villanova) 31:59.6
133. *Jackson Martin (Butler) 32:01.5
134. ***Evan Bates (Gonzaga) 32:02.8
135. **Campbell Lee’ (Iona-Can) 32:03.0
136. †Ben Butler (Kansas) 32:03.1
137. †*Taylor Dillon (Weber State) 32:04.3
138. **Spencer Nelson (Utah State) 32:05.5
139. †*Hociel Landa (Rice) 32:05.6
140. ***Santiago Gaitan (Southern Utah) 32:06.4
141. ***Devin Hart (Stanford) 32:06.5
142. **Nate Kawalec (NC State) 32:06.7
143. ***Camden Gilmore (Georgetown) 32:08.0
144. ***Brendan Favazza (Michigan State) 32:08.4
145. ***Joe Waskom (Washington) 32:09.0
146. Milo Greder (Iowa State) 32:09.2
147. *Evert Silva (Portland) 32:10.1
148. **Scott Maison (Air Force) 32:10.5
149. †Ben Naeger (Belmont) 32:10.5
150. *Ryan Raff (Northern Arizona) 32:11.5
151. Cameron Field’ (Tulsa-GB) 32:13.9
152. Joseph Humes (Purdue) 32:14.8
153. CJ Ambrosio (Duke) 32:16.0
154. **Fraser Wilson (Michigan State) 32:16.4
155. ***Jared Kreis (Duke) 32:16.8
156. †*Britan Reynolds (Utah Valley) 32:18.2
157. ***Shay McEvoy’ (Tulsa-GB) 32:18.5
158. †**Peter Morris (Virginia) 32:18.6
159. †*Marshall Beatty (Army) 32:19.6
160. **Quinn Nicholson (Georgetown) 32:19.9
161. *Darren Harman (Utah State) 32:20.5
162. *Clark Otte (Butler) 32:20.9
163. ***Bradley Peloquin (Portland) 32:22.1
164. Matt Young (Arkansas) 32:22.4
165. **Nick Moulai’ (Mississippi-NZ) 32:22.9
166. *Will Kitzhaber (Air Force) 32:23.0
167. **Isaac Mohn (Washington) 32:23.8
168. Paul Nichols (Villanova) 32:24.0
169. Mason Coppi (Furman) 32:24.4
170. *Chris Theodore (Duke) 32:24.9
171. Robinson Snider (Mississippi) 32:25.7
172. †**Andy Payne (Eastern Michigan) 32:26.0
173. **Finn McBride (UNC Charlotte) 32:26.2
174. †Eric Van Der Els (Connecticut) 32:26.7
175. **Matthew Scrape (Syracuse) 32:27.0
176. *Mark Crandall (Utah State) 32:29.6
177. ***Ian Harrison (NC State) 32:33.1
178. *Pierre-Louis Detourbe’ (Butler-Fra) 32:33.3
179. †Luke Jaciw-Zurakowsky’ (La Salle-Can) 32:33.5
180. ***Coen Roberts (Wake Forest) 32:33.5
181. ***Hunter White (UNC Charlotte) 32:35.4
182. †*Trausti Thorsteins’ (Wagner-Ice) 32:35.6
183. ***Jace Aschbrenner (USA) 32:36.7
184. Gavin Gaynor (NC State) 32:37.5
185. Dominic Hockenbury (Syracuse) 32:37.9
186. ***Jonas Price (Oklahoma State) 32:38.8
187. *Bailey McIntire (Purdue) 32:39.3
188. †Kieran Wood’ (Missouri-GB) 32:40.1
189. Brayden Law (Michigan State) 32:40.3
190. †Jahanzib Shahbaz (VMI) 32:41.0
191. *Charlie Wheeler’ (Wisconsin-GB) 32:42.0
192. **Joshua DeSouza (Iona) 32:42.6
193. **Sam Gilman (Air Force) 32:43.0
194. †*John Tatter (North Carolina) 32:43.9
195. ***Hunter Appleton (USA) 32:44.4
196. **Ares Reading (Furman) 32:47.1
197. ***Austin Haskett (Indiana) 32:47.9
198. **Skylar Stidam (Indiana) 32:48.8
199. **Leo Daschbach (Washington) 32:49.2
200. †**Chase Easterling (Youngstown State) 32:50.6
201. Joe Bistritz (NC State) 32:51.0
202. ***Silas Derfel (Syracuse) 32:52.6
203. **Jonathan DeSouza’ (Iona-Can) 32:55.4
204. **Ben Miller (Indiana) 32:56.0
205. **Brian Picone (UNC Charlotte) 32:57.6
206. *Nathan Henderson (Syracuse) 32:57.7
207. *Ryan Murphy (Arkansas) 33:02.1
208. ***Avery Cannon (UNC Charlotte) 33:04.0
209. †**Patrick Kipkemboi’ (North Dakota-Ken) 33:06.6
210. *Joaquin Martinez De Pinillos’ (Wake Forest) 33:07.9
211. *Dominic Arce (Gonzaga) 33:08.3
212. †Trevor Dominy (Charleston Southern) 33:12.8
213. Justin Weber (Villanova) 33:13.1
214. **Jack McMahon (Butler) 33:13.4
215. *Steven Stine (Michigan State) 33:17.3
216. *Alex Slenning (Washington) 33:17.9
217. ***Wil Smith (Gonzaga) 33:18.7
218. **Andrew Brandt (Purdue) 33:19.4
219. ***Jantz Tostenson (Georgetown) 33:21.1
220. **Noah Dolhare (Furman) 33:27.1
221. **Blake Selm (Purdue) 33:29.2
222. Riley Osen (Portland) 33:35.5
223. †*Harry Monroe (Virginia) 33:36.0
224. Jack Tiernan’ (Wake Forest-Aus) 33:42.6
225. *James Mwaura (Gonzaga) 33:44.6
226. *Cade Bethmann (Mississippi) 33:45.0
227. *Cullen McEachern (Gonzaga) 33:56.7
228. Kevin Salvano (Notre Dame) 33:57.9
229. †*George Kusche’ (Nebraska-SA) 34:03.1
230. ***Ryan Schoppe (Oklahoma State) 34:04.0
231. *Dustin Horter (Indiana) 34:25.5
232. *Jack Fredian (Villanova) 34:37.2
233. Brody Smith (Purdue) 34:38.4
234. ***Jacob Gallant (UNC Charlotte) 35:06.0
235. **Adam Beucler (Furman) 35:24.1
236. ***Alex Comerford (Syracuse) 35:26.2
237. Ben Savino (Mississippi) 37:58.8

… dnf—*Tibebu Proctor (Washington), *Tyler Bowling (Purdue), **Jack Meijer (Wisconsin), *Shuaib Aljabaly (Wisconsin), ***Malte Propp’ (Tulsa-Ger), ***Matthew Payamps (Georgetown), JP Flavin (NC State), *Brandon Garnica (BYU), Kyle Cloutier (UMass Lowell), *Victor Ortiz-Rivera (Arizona), Bennett Pascoe (Arkansas State), ***Thomas Boyden (Stanford), *Aaron Wier (Furman), JP Trojan (Syracuse).

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