NCAA Women’s XC Champs — Wins For Chelangat, BYU

Content to run in the pack for most of the race, Alabama’s Mercy Chelangat (second from right) pounced in the last kilo. (MIKE SCOTT)

STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA, March 15 — On a Monday morning in March that felt like November, Alabama’s Mercy Chelangat captured the individual crown and BYU’s deep squad took the team title at the NCAA Women’s XC Championships. Postponed 4 months due to C19, the entertaining race began with many unknowns, since predictions and rankings were flimsy.

Chelangat pulled away late in the race to win in 20:01.1 over the brown-sod 6K course, finishing ahead of hometown ace Taylor Roe (20:06.7). Chelangat’s teammate Amaris Tyynismaa took 3rd to provide a powerful 1-2 punch for Alabama.

A Tide junior, Chelangat ran in the top 10 the entire race on her way to becoming the SEC’s first individual winner. “We had a plan to get out in a good position in the first 1K,” she said, “and then move a little bit faster past the 5K. I knew there were a lot of really good girls out there. It was hilly and so windy, and I think everyone else could feel it. It was mental, I think. During the last 500m, I knew were almost at the finish line, so I just continued my momentum.”

Even though she had qualified to the NCAA Indoor in both the 3000 and 5000, Chelangat chose not to compete in Fayetteville, and she was confident in her choice, saying, “The coaches asked me what I wanted to do, and I like cross country more. I think that was the best decision for me!”

Chelangat’s unorthodox season included 3 XC races in the fall, including a win at the SEC, plus 3 indoor oval competitions in January and February.

She didn’t come in planning to win. “I didn’t have high expectations. My coach said to just do our thing and not do anything special, and everything would be fine.”

“We had a feeling that Mercy could be one of the people up there challenging for the title,” said Alabama head Dan Waters. “To win this race is the pinnacle for any distance runner, and for Mercy to do so, we’re really proud. We just ask our athletes to race like they have all year, do the things they know they’re capable of doing.”

Haley Herberg of Washington, the surprise Pac-12 winner, led through the first two kilos before BYU vet Whittni Orton took over. Orton, who hadn’t raced since October due to injury (and had trained only 4 weeks), pushed the pace through 5K before running out of gas and fading to 17th — but still finished an important 3rd for BYU. Senior Anna Camp and sophomore Aubrey Frentheway finished in the top 15 to pace the Cougars, with Sara Musselman and McKenna Lee rounding out the scoring behind Orton.

BYU scored 96 points to win handily over NC State (161) and Stanford (207), but the surprising Wolfpack was ahead at 3K (108–110) and 4K (90–97) before BYU edged into the top spot at 5K (89–95), as NC State’s Nos. 4 & 5 runners faded.

Runner-up in ’19, BYU won its fifth title in program history, but the first since ’02. Ecstatic coach Diljeet Taylor exclaimed, “I’m super proud of them! Coming off of the year we’ve had with COVID, we talked a lot about ‘winning the wait.’”

Orton’s gritty effort inspired the team, according to Taylor: “You don’t know how that’s going to go on a course like this. It’s a pretty tough course. I know she’s extremely talented, and we knew she wasn’t going to be at her best today, but she was able to give her best, and that propelled the team in a huge way.

“It was really hard for her,” she continued. “Her preparation was much different coming into this race. We had to just accept that she wasn’t going to be at her best and let go of the titles and do this for the team. She’s such a competitor! I knew on this course the last 1000m were brutal, and you saw that. She paid the price at the end, but that’s her racing style. She’s going to give everything she has until she has nothing left.”

While many teams and individuals had competed two days prior at the Indoor, BYU’s runners in Stillwater had focused entirely on cross country, while a separate BYU distance group had focused on the indoor season.

“That definitely caused some issues from a coaching perspective,” admitted Taylor. “Just putting energy into two separate teams, and having workouts on two separate days. As a coach, writing workouts for two different programs, and bringing the energy every single day because you have no recovery days. That was pretty challenging, to give my 100% to two teams that were also giving their 100%. But it paid off, and I’m super proud. These women are incredible.”


NCAA XC WOMEN’S RESULTS

Stillwater, Oklahoma March 15—

Teams
(adjusted places)

1. BYU 9–12–14–27–34 (92–151) 96
2. NC State 4–7–20–51–79 (101–189) 161
3. Stanford 8–11–45–70–73 (125–148) 207
4. Michigan State 13–28–29–61–81 (96–168) 212
5. Minnesota 6–37–48–57–91 (167–200) 239

6. New Mexico 274; 7. Colorado 279; 8. Alabama 280; 9. Boise State 304; 10. Arkansas 316; 11. Northern Arizona 318; 12. Mississippi 325; 13. Washington 330; 14. North Carolina 354; 15. Florida State 363; 16. Oregon State 375;
17. Michigan 400; 18. Georgetown 494; 19. Indiana 494; 20. Georgia Tech 508; 21. Illinois 521; 22. Portland 522; 23. Colorado State 532; 24. Oklahoma State 535; 25. Iowa State 580; 26. Liberty 611; 27. Duke 625; 28. Tulsa 650; 29. West Virginia 668; 30. USF 688; 31. Furman 761.

Individuals
†=not in team scoring
6000m (256 started, 253 finished)

1. *Mercy Chelangat’ (Alabama-Ken) 20:01.1
2. **Taylor Roe (Oklahoma State) 20:06.7
3. **Amaris Tyynismaa (Alabama) 20:10.2
4. †Mahala Norris (Air Force) 20:11.8
5. Hannah Steelman (NC State) 20:14.9
6. *Taryn O’Neill (Northern Arizona) 20:23.0
7. †Summer Allen (Weber State) 20:23.3
8. Bethany Hasz (Minnesota) 20:25.2
9. **Kelsey Chmiel (NC State) 20:26.4
10. Ella Donaghu (Stanford) 20:26.7
11. Anna Camp (BYU) 20:28.3
12. Nicole Fegans (USA) 20:29.5
13. Julia Heymach (Stanford) 20:32.9
14. †Emily Mackay (Binghamton) 20:34.5
15. **Aubrey Frentheway (BYU) 20:34.9
16. *Jenna Magness (Michigan State) 20:35.0
17. Whittni Orton (BYU) 20:35.6
18. Abby Nichols (USA) 20:35.8
19. †**Grace Forbes (Rice) 20:37.2
20. **Kaylee Mitchell (Oregon State) 20:38.5
21. *Krissy Gear (Arkansas) 20:39.3
22. Adva Cohen’ (New Mexico-Isr) 20:39.4
23. Maudie Skyring’ (Florida State-Aus) 20:40.5
24. ***Katelyn Tuohy (NC State) 20:41.3
25. **Gracelyn Larkin’ (New Mexico-Can) 20:41.8
26. Allie Schadler (Washington) 20:43.9
27. †*Poppy Tank (Utah) 20:45.9
28. *Bailey Hertenstein (Indiana) 20:46.4
29. Paige Hofstad (North Carolina) 20:46.5
30. †Kaley Richards (UMass Lowell) 20:46.9
31. *Anna Pataki’ (Portland-Hun) 20:47.6
32. **Maggie Donahue (Georgetown) 20:51.0
33. Sara Musselman (BYU) 20:51.3
34. Lynsie Gram (Michigan State) 20:52.4
35. India Johnson (Michigan State) 20:53.8
36. *Esther Gitahi’ (Alabama-Ken) 20:57.4
37. Batya Beard (Oregon State) 20:57.7
38. †*Lindsey Stallworth (East Tennessee) 20:58.5
39. *Tyler Beling’ (Boise State-SA) 20:59.3
40. **Rebecca Clark (Florida State) 20:59.4
41. *McKenna Lee (BYU) 20:59.9
42. **Ceili McCabe’ (West Virginia-Can) 21:01.2
43. †Katie Struthers (Utah State) 21:01.6
44. Delaney Rasmussen (Northern Arizona) 21:01.8
45. Abby Kohut-Jackson (Minnesota) 21:01.9
46. ***Sasha Neglia (North Carolina) 21:03.0
47. †Sarah Chapman (Missouri) 21:03.5
48. †Lotte Black (Rhode Island) 21:03.6
49. Anna Elkin (Mississippi) 21:03.7
50. †Alison Pray (Southern Utah) 21:04.4
51. **Sintayehu Vissa’ (Mississippi-Ita) 21:04.6
52. *Olivia Johnson (Boise State) 21:04.8
53. **Naomi Smith (Washington) 21:05.0
54. *Molly Born (Oklahoma State) 21:05.6
55. Haley Herberg (Washington) 21:05.8
56. Jessica Lawson (Stanford) 21:06.9
57. *Stella Gillman (Portland) 21:07.6
58. ***Amelia Mazza-Downie’ (New Mexico-Aus) 21:08.3
59. *Anastasia Korzenowski’ (Minnesota-Pol) 21:09.0
60. **Loral Winn (Mississippi) 21:10.9
61. ***Kelsey Harrington (North Carolina) 21:11.3
62. †Lauren White (Boston College) 21:12.6
63. Dominique Clairmonte (NC State) 21:13.0
64. Logan Morris (Arkansas) 21:13.7
65. **Ericka VanderLende (Michigan) 21:14.7
66. **Adelyn Ackley (Liberty) 21:15.6
67. †*Anneka Murrin (Loyola Ilinois) 21:15.8
68. Rebecca Craddock (Illinois) 21:15.9
69. Caitlin Klopfer (Tulsa) 21:16.4
70. *Jaycie Thomsen (Minnesota) 21:17.2
71. †Amanda Vestri (Syria) 21:17.9
72. **Elizabeth Constien (USA) 21:18.5
73. Abby Gray (Arkansas) 21:19.1
74. Madie Boreman (USA) 21:19.2
75. **Makayla Perez (Michigan State) 21:19.6
76. ***Ines Borba’ (Boise State-Por) 21:20.3
77. *Liz Galarza (USA) 21:20.7
78. *McKenzie Yanek (USF) 21:22.2
79. *Jessa Hanson (Northern Arizona) 21:22.6
80. †Ashley Tutt (Northern Illinois) 21:22.8
81. Lauren Offerman (Colorado State) 21:23.3
82. †**Maria Ahm’ (Elon-Den) 21:23.5
83. †*Annabelle Eastman’ (George Mason-Aus) 21:23.8
84. Kathryn House (Michigan) 21:24.6
85. *Calli Doan (Liberty) 21:25.3
86. †Erika Freyhof (Nebraska) 21:26.0
87. Micaela Degenero (USA) 21:26.7
88. Christina Aragon (Stanford) 21:27.0
89. *Sami Corman (Georgetown) 21:27.0
90. ***Samantha Tran (Michigan) 21:27.4
91. †*Lydia Olivere (Villanova) 21:27.4
92. ***Lucy Jenks (Stanford) 21:28.0
93. *Bryn Morley (Northern Arizona) 21:28.6
94. *Yukino Parle (Boise State) 21:28.9
95. ***Bethany Graham (Furman) 21:28.9
96. ***Emily Covert (USA) 21:29.0
97. **Ashlyn Hillyard (Colorado State) 21:29.1
98. *Savannah Shaw (NC State) 21:29.2
99. †Maria Coffin (Providence) 21:29.5
100. ***Camille Jackson (USA) 21:29.8
101. **Katie Osika (Michigan State) 21:30.5
102. **Sarah Schmitt (Indiana) 21:30.6
103. **Skylar Boogerd (Mississippi) 21:30.8
104. *Gracie Hyde (Arkansas) 21:31.4
105. †*Sydney Seymour (Tennessee) 21:31.4
106. Kayla Easterly (Florida State) 21:31.6
107. Hannah Stoffel (Indiana) 21:32.1
108. Jena Metwalli (Michigan) 21:32.5
109. *Winrose Chesang’ (Iowa State-Ken) 21:32.6
110. †**Irene Rono’ (Abilene Christian-Ken) 21:33.3
111. Audrey Lookner (Oregon State) 21:33.9
112. Michaela Reinhart (Duke) 21:33.9
113. †***Kailee Perry (Bowling Green) 21:36.2
114. Megan Hasz (Minnesota) 21:37.7
115. **Haley Johnston (BYU) 21:38.0
116. ***Semira Mebrahtu Firezghi’ (New Mexico-Eri) 21:38.4
117. †Carolien Millenaar’ (South Alabama-Den) 21:38.6
118. †Courtney Brenner (Lipscomb) 21:38.9
119. **Sailor Hutton (Boise State) 21:40.6
120. †**Leah Hansen (South Dakota State) 21:40.6
121. ***Elise Thorner’ (New Mexico-GB) 21:41.0
122. Casey Mossholder (Michigan State) 21:41.2
123. †*Erin Mullins (Washington State) 21:41.5
124. **Eve Jensen (USF) 21:41.9
125. †Winny Koskei’ (Wichita State-Ken) 21:42.6
126. Cailie Logue (Iowa State) 21:42.8
127. ***Alyson Churchill (Florida State) 21:43.3
128. **Dana Feyen (Iowa State) 21:44.1
129. †*Kristen Garcia (Gonzaga) 21:44.1
130. **Mariah Howlett (NC State) 21:44.5
131. Camila David-Smith (Washington) 21:44.9
132. Allison McGrath (Illinois) 21:45.1
133. ***Corie Smith (Arkansas) 21:45.4
134. *Megan Patton (Alabama) 21:45.4
135. ***Emily Chaston (Colorado State) 21:45.8
136. †*Maddie Empey (Utah Valley) 21:45.6
137. ***Ava Dobson (North Carolina) 21:45.8
138. *Baylee Jones (Georgetown) 21:45.9
139. **Olivia Howell (Illinois) 21:46.1
140. **Ivy Gonzales (Colorado State) 21:46.6
141. †*Ashlyn Ramos (Bucknell) 21:47.4
142. ***Victoria Patterson (Duke) 21:47.5
143. *Ayah Aldadah (Illinois) 21:48.0
144. Annamaria Kostarellis (New Mexico) 21:48.0
145. Victoria Simmons (Mississippi) 21:48.1
146. **Samantha Schadler (Duke) 21:49.3
147. **Grace Brock’ (Boise State-GB) 21:49.4
148. **Meagen Lowe (Oregon State) 21:50.0
149. **Ryann Helmers (Mississippi) 21:51.2
150. **Katherine Dowie’ (West Virginia-NZ) 21:51.7
151. Madison Heisterman (Washington) 21:52.6
152. ***Kayla Windemuller (Michigan) 21:53.3
153. Greta Van Calcar (Oregon State) 21:53.7
154. ***Madelynne Cadeau (Furman) 21:53.8
155. ***Zofia Dudek’ (Stanford-Pol) 21:54.3
156. *Christina Geisler (Boise State) 21:54.3
157. †**Jaybe Shufelberger (USA) 21:54.5
158. *Caroline Miller (Tulsa) 21:54.6
159. Jodie Judd’ (Florida State-GB) 21:54.9
160. Madeleine King (Mississippi) 21:55.5
161. †**Andrea Claeson’ (Boston U-Swe) 21:56.5
162. *Sara Platek (Duke) 21:59.0
163. ***Sivan Auerbach’ (Oklahoma State-Isr) 21:59.0
164. *Sofia Castiglioni (Portland) 21:59.4
165. *Alyssa Aldridge (Georgetown) 22:00.4
166. *Rachel McArthur (USA) 22:01.8
167. Mary Claire Solomon (USA) 22:02.1
168. Emmeline Fisher (North Carolina) 22:03.1
169. *Mary Kathryn Knott (USA) 22:03.7
170. **Maddie Dalton (Indiana) 22:03.7
171. **Jesselyn Bries (Northern Arizona) 22:04.2
172. *Zoe Wassell’ (USF-GB) 22:05.4
173. **Madelynn Hill (Iowa State) 22:05.9
174. ***Sophie Spada (Alabama) 22:06.3
175. *Emma Milburn (Illinois) 22:07.8
176. ***Andrea Modin Engesæth’ (New Mexico-Nor) 22:08.4
177. *Emma Jenkins (Portland) 22:08.4
178. Alyssa Foote (Oregon State) 22:08.9
179. ***Jonna Strange (Furman) 22:09.8
180. **Katharina Pesendorfer’ (Tulsa-Aut) 22:11.4
181. ***Grace Connolly (Stanford) 22:11.6
182. *Noel Palmer (Liberty) 22:12.1
183. Hayley Jackson (West Virginia) 22:12.4
184. ***Lexy Halladay (BYU) 22:14.6
185. Mikaela Lucki (Illinois) 22:14.9
186. †**Gianna Sbarbaro (San Diego State) 22:15.3
187. **Meghan Underwood (Arkansas) 22:15.7
188. ***Brenna Cohoon (Iowa State) 22:17.3
189. *Alice Hill (Michigan) 22:18.7
190. **Janette Schraft (Iowa State) 22:19.3
191. *Katie Dammer (Georgetown) 22:19.7
192. *Alice Newcombe’ (Tulsa-GB) 22:20.2
193. Kennedy Thomson’ (Arkansas-Can) 22:22.3
194. Kelly Makin (Washington) 22:22.9
195. Pipi Eitel (Northern Arizona) 22:23.3
196. **Annika Reiss (Northern Arizona) 22:23.4
197. Jenny O’Bryan (Tulsa) 22:23.6
198. †Gemma Nuttall’ (Iona-GB) 22:26.0
199. Grace Dwyer (Liberty) 22:26.3
200. **Claire Moritz (USA) 22:26.8
201. **Abi Little (Indiana) 22:27.4
202. *Tate Sweeney (Minnesota) 22:28.8
203. Aimee Piercy (Michigan State) 22:29.8
204. Jennifer Lima (Florida State) 22:30.0
205. **Andrea Markezich (Washington) 22:30.9
206. ***Rilee Rigdon (Oklahoma State) 22:32.7
207. *Lily Tomasula-Martin (Colorado State) 22:33.4
208. Antigone Archer (West Virginia) 22:34.8
209. †Famke Heinst’ (High Point-Ger) 22:35.0
210. ***Taryn Parks (North Carolina) 22:35.6
211. ***Katy Earwood (USA) 22:35.9
212. †**Laura Taborda’ (Eastern Kentucky-Por) 22:36.1
213. **Priscillah Kiplagat’ (Liberty-Ken) 22:36.5
214. Victoria Weir’ (Portland-GB) 22:36.5
215. ***Marie Hostetler (Liberty) 22:36.5
216. Amanda Beach (Duke) 22:37.2
217. ***Grace Dickel (Iowa State) 22:37.6
218. **Caroline Howley (Duke) 22:38.4
219. **Jenna Barker (Indiana) 22:40.2
220. **Grace Fetherstonhaugh’ (Oregon State-Can) 22:40.5
221. *Sarah Carter (Colorado State) 22:42.7
222. ***Samantha Prusse (Portland) 22:45.4
223. ***Baneet Bains’ (USF-Can) 22:47.0
224. ***Charlotte Tomkinson (Duke) 22:47.2
225. ***Mary Hennelly (Georgetown) 22:48.4
226. Julia Zachgo (NC State) 22:48.7
227. ***Heidi Demeo’ (Oklahoma State-Aus) 22:49.0
228. **Mikenna Vanderheyden’ (West Virginia-Can) 22:51.9
229. Maegan Doody (Georgetown) 22:52.5
230. *Devon Peterson (Colorado State) 22:55.3
231. *Veerle Bakker’ (Portland-Neth) 22:56.5
232. *Emma Bower (Liberty) 22:56.9
233. ***Layla Roebke (Tulsa) 22:58.5
234. ***Kenzie Walls (USA) 22:59.6
235. **Katie Hohe (Illinois) 23:02.4
236. ***Abbey Yuhasz’ (Tulsa-Can) 23:03.1
237. *Bit Klecker (Minnesota) 23:03.5
238. ***Kalii Caldwell (USF) 23:04.0
239. **Ana Barrott (Indiana) 23:04.8
240. †*Ashley Dana (Central Connecticut) 23:08.7
241. Mady Clahane (North Carolina) 23:10.0
242. **Jami Reed (Alabama) 23:11.4
243. ***Emily Little (Furman) 23:12.1
244. ***Lilly Lavier (Oklahoma State) 23:15.8
245. ***Petal Palmer’ (West Virginia-Can) 23:20.0
246. **Abigail Pradere (USF) 23:25.5
247. *Marianne Abdalah (West Virginia) 23:38.2
248. **Yasmine Abbes’ (Florida State-Neth) 23:46.7
249. **Nicole Matysik (Furman) 23:54.1
250. **Gabby Hentemann (Oklahoma State) 23:55.3
251. Anna Tait’ (USF-GB) 25:05.9
252. *Riley Schelp (Alabama) 25:31.0
253. ***Megan Marvin (Furman) 25:50.3

… dnf—***Beth Donnelly (Furman), ***Katelynne Hart (Michigan), †Meg Swietlik (Milwaukee).

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