Clayton Young adds 6th-place finish to lead BYU to 8th at NCAA men's outdoor track championships

(Nate Edwards, BYU Photo)

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SALT LAKE CITY — BYU's run in the men's track and field championships was paced by its historic distance runners.

And in Friday night's grand finale, the Cougar harriers were once again on display.

Clayton Young and Conner Mantz finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the 5,000-meter final, propelling BYU to an eighth-place finish on the final day of the NCAA men’s outdoor track and field championships Friday in Austin, Texas.

Young, who won the individual title Wednesday night in the 10,000-meter run, finished in 14:09.00 — just ahead of Mantz, who clocked in at 14:09.20. The duo ran back-to-back down the final stretch, with Young as high as third with just over 200 meters to go and Mantz just a few strides behind eventual champion Morgan McDonald of Wisconsin before falling short.

"It was an evening of ups and downs," BYU coach Ed Eyestone said. "We ended on a high note with Young and Mantz doubling back after the 10K to finish 6-7 in the 5K. This was a great end to an amazing season for our men's team to finish eighth in the nation. Now we look to continue the trend in the future."

The Cougars' eight entries on the final day of the competition was the second-most in the field, trailing only top-ranked Texas Tech, who used 11 finalists to score 60 points en route to the team title.

Florida (50), Houston (40), Georgia (32.5) and Stanford (32) rounded out the top five. The Cougars' eighth-place finish is the program’s best since scoring 27.5 points en route to eighth in 2011.

BYU added a loaded final in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, with teammates Matt Owens, Clayson Shumway, Kenneth Rooks and Jacob Heslington all qualifying for the finals.

Owens set the pace for the pack through the first two-thirds of the race, as runners prepared for 90-degree conditions on the track in Austin. His BYU teammates of Shumway, Rooks and Heslington trailed in the back of the pack for much of the early start to the race.

Owens dropped to fourth as the lead runners began to make a move with two laps to go, finishing eighth in 8:45.40. Shumway finished 10th in 8:53.45, followed by freshman Rooks (9:00.53) and Heslington (9:02.03).

"The steeplechase was an interesting race," Eyestone said. "It was one of those days where the elements had a big impact on a lot of athletes. I’m excited that we had four guys in the final and I'm not disappointed in their effort."

BYU's Ricky Fantroy Jr. posted a 50-feet, 10-inch leap to finish 21st in the men’s triple jump final.

Southern Utah's Kasey Knevelbaard was the top local finisher in the men’s 1,500-meter final, clinching All-American status with a sixth-place time of 3:42.43. BYU's Talem Franco finished 11th with a time of 3:46.20.

Frank Harris, who also plays football for SUU, tied his own school record in the high jump with a leap of 7 feet, 3 inches, earning first-team All-American status with a seventh-place finish.

The Thunderbirds finished 45th with 4.5 points — just a half-point behind Utah State, which was paced by Sindri Gudmundsson's All-American javelin throw Wednesday night.

"To go in with four guys and all of them come away with some type of All-American citation, what a crazy cool way to end a great year for us," SUU coach Eric Houle said. "It's the best of the best that comes out of this program, and for them to represent Southern Utah like they did is awesome and is a great cap to the year."

Former Syracuse High star and U.S. Paralympian Hunter Woodhall ran the second leg for Arkansas' 1,600-meter relay squad. The Razorbacks finished seventh in 3:03.40.

The NCAA outdoor track and field championships wrap up Saturday with the women's finals, including BYU teammates Whittni Orton, Erica Birk-Jarvis, Anna Camp and Brenna Porter.

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