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Conner Mantz, the {span}grandson of Stephanie Hill and the late Robert Fackrell of Preston,{span} smashed Brigham Young University’s record in the 5,000 meter race in February with a 13:28 time. It placed him as the world leader in the event earlier this year. He’s also the #1 runner in the event in BYU history.

Mantz now turns his attention to winning an NCAA track title at either 5K or 10K or both in preparation for another dream. His goal is to be on the next Olympic team. He was training for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials but a stress fracture and then the pandemic ended his season. Instead, he will compete in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials this summer for a berth on the team that will go to Tokyo.

This weekend, June 19, he competes in the 10,000 meter race in Washington, said his mother, Joanna Fackrell Mantz, a 1990 Preston High graduate. To do so, he must complete the race in 27:28. He’s trying to shave 13 seconds off his current time of 27:41 in the event.

His mother has hope, however, as “he’s much better in long distances,” she said.

Mantz attended the NCAA cross country champions in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on March 15, as a member of the BYU team defending their 2019 NCAA cross country title. Though the team took seventh overall Mantz won the title on a course many coaches judged the most difficult course in the meet’s long history.

Mantz started the race in second place and dropped to fourth for awhile before moving back into second. In the final mile he began to distance himself from the competition and took the lead. A lead he increased to 22 seconds by the time he crossed the finish line as the first American winner of the NCAA cross-country men’s title since double Olympic medalist Galen Rupp in 2008 and BYU’s first NCAA cross-country champion since Josh Rohatinsky won it in 2006. His coach, Ed Eyestone, won the championship in 1984.

Mantz became interested in running after was watching his father, a former Weber State wrestler who took up marathoning to lose weight, and older brother Garrett run a half-marathon.

Eventually, Mantz stopped playing soccer and went on to win four high school state championships in track and cross-country. He also competed in the U.S. Junior National Cross-Country Championships, a team reserved for ages 19 and under. Junior teams are usually composed of the older college freshmen, but Mantz won the national meet as an 18-year-old and joined the six-man team that competed in the world junior championships in China, where he placed 29th out of 118 runners.

After serving a two-year mission in Ghana for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints Mantz started right where he left off and began running for BYU who he had signed to run with in high school.

Mantz and his teammates were strong favorites for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships March 11-13, but did not compete. With the 2020 NCAA Cross-Country Championships — which was postponed from last November because of the pandemic — just two days later they chose to defend their title instead. The indoor track and cross-country championships were too close together to allow distance runners enough recovery time to compete in both competitions.

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