National Champions

2021 - Whittni Orton wins first individual title in women's school history

Coach Taylor with Whittni Orton, 2021 NCAA Individual XC Champion Whittni Orton closes in on 2021 NCAA XC individual title

Whittni Orton led BYU women's cross country to a runner-up finish, also taking home an individual title, the first individual NCAA women’s cross country title in school history, in the 2021 NCAA Cross Country Championships at Apalachee Regional Park.

Orton ran with the front pack of the top-4 runners for the majority of the race, breaking off at the 5K mark as she approached the hill leading to the finish line. The senior from Panguitch, Utah, would go on to beat Alabama's Mercy Chelangat, the reigning individual champion, by nearly four seconds. Her 6K time of 19:25.4 is the second fastest all-time at Apalachee, beating a time of 19:26.2 set in 2014.

At the 2020-21 NCAA Cross Country Championships held earlier this year, Orton led the pack before dropping into 17th place toward the end of the race. "That definitely fueled me a lot," Orton said. "I did think about it many, many times, not just today but throughout the whole year. I always think that the setback does help with the comeback."

Orton also talked about BYU women's cross country head coach Diljeet Taylor and the impact that she's had on the program. "Her culture, I've been a part of it for about six years now," she said. "I am a completely different person because of  it. I'm just so grateful for her and these girls. I've seen them grow as well and it's really amazing to see. I don't know why anyone wouldn't come to BYU."

Orton is the first BYU woman to win an individual NCAA cross country title in school history. On the men's side, Conner Mantz won the individual title for the second-straight year, the first repeat champion since 2014-15. It is just the second time in NCAA history, however, that the two individual champions have come from the same school. Michelle Dekkers and Robert O. Kennedy from Indiana accomplished the feat in 1988. 

2020-21 - NCAA Team Title

2020-21 NCAA XC Champions - BYU women's cross country team photo

The BYU women’s cross country team won the 2021 NCAA Cross Country Championships, its fifth national title in program history, with a team score of 96 points at the OSU Cross Country Course in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

“I’m just extremely proud and humbled to be their coach,” said associate director of cross country/track and field Diljeet Taylor said. “They’re running for something bigger than themselves. When you can get women that step on the line empowered, strong and really feeling in their hearts they can win, that’s when you see magic happen. That’s what we witnessed today.”

Five Cougars finished in the top 50 to lead the BYU women’s cross country team to its first national championship since 2003 and its fifth team title overall (1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2021). Four Cougars finished in the top 40 and received All-America honors for their performances, the most All-Americans on one BYU team since 2003.

Senior Anna Camp-Bennett moved up four spots in the final kilometer of the 6K to cross first for the Cougars and take 11th place (20:28.3). Junior Aubrey Frentheway (20:34.9) and senior Whittni Orton (20:35.6) finished 15th and 17th overall, respectively, to give the Cougars three of the top 20 finishers.

Senior Sara Musselman (20:51.3) placed 33rd overall while junior McKenna Lee (20:59.9) finished 41st, one spot away from All-America status. Junior Haley Johnston (21:38.0) placed 115th and true freshman Lexy Halladay (22:14.6) finished 184th overall to round out the seven BYU runners.

“Last night, I felt really good at the end of our team meeting,” Taylor said. “It felt like something good was going to happen. I told them to be gold diggers and you saw them dig really deep today.”

BYU’s depth proved dominant with the second-place team's score being more than 60 points behind the Cougars. Under coach Taylor, the women’s team has finished in the top 10 four of her five years, including a second-place finish last year. Taylor’s teams have never finished below 11th place at the championship meet.

1997, 1999, 2001 & 2002 - NCAA Team Titles

Hall of Fame coach Patrick Shane worked to establish the BYU women's cross country program to elite status in the NCAA during his 36-year tenure. With 25 conference championships, 16 region championships, 21 top-ten finishes and four NCAA National Championships, Shane and his runners have done just that. The women’s team consistently finishes ranked at or near the top in the national rankings.

Shane’s formula for success could be found within the team. Each individual athlete understands and is committed to putting in the time and effort it takes to be the best. Shane’s ability to structure his teams’ training allows the runners to peak at the right time is also a key to the team's success. In 2001 the Cougars won its third national championship capturing the title with one of the biggest margins of victory in the history of the NCAA Championships, defeating second-place N.C. State by 86 points. The Cougars won the championship for their fourth time in 2002 beating Stanford University by 28 points.

1997 NCAA Final Results
Greenville, South Carolina, November 24, 1997
22 Teams, 5K
Team Place School Individual Finishes Points
1 Brigham Young 5, 13, 22, 27, 33 100
2 Stanford 2, 14, 15, 27, 78 125
3 Colorado 12, 27, 40, 41, 48 178
BYU Scorers
Place Runner Time
5 Courtney Pugmire* 16:58
13 Maggie Chan* 17:04
22 Elizabeth Jackson* 17:19
27 Tara Haynes 17:22
33 Emily Nay 17:31

*Awarded All-America honors
Coach Patrick Shane named NCAA Cross Country Coach of 1997

1999 NCAA Final Results
Bloomington, Indiana, November 22, 1999
31 Teams, 5K
Team Place School Individual Finishes Points
1 Brigham Young 11, 16, 17, 23, 26 72
2 Arkansas 2, 3, 15, 27, 78 125
3 Stanford 4, 5, 11, 33, 74 127
BYU Scorers
Place Runner Time
11 Elizabeth Jackson* 16:59
16 Kara Ormond* 17:11
17 Tara Rohatinsky* 17:14
23 Sharolyn Shields 17:16
26 Laura Heiner 17:17

*Awarded All-America honors
Coach Patrick Shane named NCAA Cross Country Coach of 1999

2001 NCAA Final Results
Greenville, South Carolina, November 19, 2001
31 Teams, 6K
Team Place School Individual Finishes Points
1 Brigham Young 5, 7, 9, 20, 21 62
2 N.C. State 4, 13, 18, 41, 72 148
3 Georgetown 14, 30, 35, 37, 64 180
BYU Scorers
Place Runner Time
5 Michaela Mannova* 20:42
7 Jessie Kindschi* 20:49
9 Tara Northcutt* 20:55
23 Lindsey Thomsen 21:11
24 Sarah Taylor 21:12

*Awarded All-America honors

2002 NCAA Final Results
Terre Haute, Indiana, November 25, 2002
31 Teams, 6K
Team Place School Individual Finishes Points
1 Brigham Young 4, 6, 15, 28, 32 85
2 Stanford 2, 3, 9, 40, 59 113
3 Notre Dame 5, 14, 37, 56, 58 170
BYU Scorers
Place Runner Time
4 Michaela Mannova* 19:49
6 Kassi Anderson* 19:56
15 Katie Martin* 20:15
28 Breanne Sandberg* 20:36
32 Jamie Cottle* 20:45

*Awarded All-America honors
Coach Patrick Shane named NCAA Cross Country Coach of 2002