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BYU men, Utah women place second in NCAA cross-country regional

Utah Valley University’s Everlyn Kemboi, a senior from Kenya, won the individual championship

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BYU cross-country runner compete at the WCC championship earlier this fall.

BYU cross-country runners compete at the WCC championship earlier this fall. The Cougars, despite resting three of their top seven runners, placed second at the NCAA regional in Albuquerque on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.

Matthew Norton, BYU

Utah Valley University’s Everlyn Kemboi, a senior from Kenya, won the individual championship in Friday’s NCAA West Regional cross-country championship in Albuquerque, and the University of Utah women finished second in the team race.

Kemboi covered the women’s 6,000-meter race in 19:47.6 to claim a one-and-a-half-second victory over runnerup Elise Stearns of Northern Arizona. BYU’s Aubrey Frentheway and Lexy Halladay finished third and fourth, respectively.

The University of Utah, ranked No. 9 in the national polls, placed second in the team standings, ahead of No. 4 Northern Arizona, No. 6 BYU and No. 8 Colorado.

Utah’s top finisher was Emily Venters in seventh place, with teammate Simone Plourde 10th and Keelah Barger 17th in a field of 130 runners.

Among the other Utah schools, BYU, Utah Valley and Utah State finished sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively. Weber State was 11th and Southern Utah 13th.

The top two teams automatically qualify for the NCAA championships, which will be held Nov. 19 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Another 13 at-large teams will advance to the NCAA meet. The first four individual finishers who are not on an automatic qualifying team or an at-large selection will also advance to nationals. The at-large teams will be announced Saturday evening.

It’s difficult to predict the outcome of the NCAA championships based on regional results, because some of the top teams opt not to enter all of their top runners in this competition, choosing instead to rest them for the NCAA championships, which will be held eight days later.

On the men’s side of the competition, No. 2-ranked BYU rested three of its top seven runners, but still managed to finish second behind No. 3 Northern Arizona. The Cougars placed four runners in the top 13 — Brandon Garnica (fifth), Casey Clinger (sixth), Joey Nokes (eighth) and Christian Allen (13th). NAU finished with 44 points, BYU 61.

Among the Utah schools, Utah State was seventh, Utah Valley 10th, Southern Utah 11th and Weber State 14th in the 17-team field.