A much shorter-than-normal rest between big races didn’t prevent former Sky View star distance runner Conner Mantz from putting together a very good performance on Day 1 of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Mantz, who just completed his junior year at BYU, finished in fifth place out of 25 of the best 10,000-meter runners the United States has to offer on a warm Friday evening at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Simply put, it was a gutsy effort from Mantz, who was the silver medalist in this same event last Wednesday at the NCAA Track & Field Championships.
Mantz was in ninth place heading into the bell lap, but was able to battle his way into the No. 5 position thanks to a 58.73-second final 400 meters. The Smithfield native was in 14th place with 4,000 meters remaining.
The son of Joanna and Robert Mantz clocked in at 27:53.62, which was less than six seconds slower than champion Woody Kincaid. Kincaid, who completed the race in 27:53.62, threw down an impressive 53.47 final lap to move from third to first place.
The top three placers in each individual event will punch their ticket to the 2022 Olympic Games in Toyko, so long as they meet the Olympic qualifying standard. The qualifying standard for the 10,000 is a 27:28. Mantz’s best time in the event is a 27:41, plus he ran a 27:42 at the NCAA Championships.
The top four placers in Friday’s 10,000 have met the Olympic qualifying standard.
Mantz ran an aggressive race Friday as he surged into the lead on the second lap and was in the top position through 1,600 meters. The former 4A state cross country and track champion was in second place through 2,000 meters and was in the top five through 4,400.
Mantz was behind at least nine athletes for much of the remainder of the race, but was never more than two seconds behind the leader and, therefore, the reigning NCAA cross country champion gave himself a chance at the end.
Mantz finished ahead of several well-known competitors in the event, including 2008 Olympic 10,000 silver medalist Galen Rupp. Rupp, whose primary event is now the marathon, finished sixth with a time of 27:59.43.
In addition to Mantz, another runner local track & field fans are familiar with competed in Friday’s 10,000. Former Utah State star Dillon Maggard ended up placing 19th with a time of 28:52.38. Maggard was within striking position of Kincaid and company for the first 6,000 or so meters, but ultimately was unable to keep pace with the top runners.
Maggard was a nine-time All-American for the Aggies and nearly captured a title in the 10,000 at the 2018 NCAA Championships. The native of Kirkland, Washington, took the lead heading into the bell lap and ended up placing third.
Maggard, whose lifetime best in the 10,000 is a 27:54, and Mantz are two of just a handful of athletes over the past few years to garner first-team All-America honors in the 5,000 and 10,000 at the same NCAA meet.
Only two finals were contested on Day 1 of the meet, which will continue through Sunday, June 27. In the other final, the men’s shot put, Ryan Crouser shattered a 31-year-old world record with his astounding fourth-round mark of 76 feet, 8.75 inches.
Mantz has also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 5,000. The first round of that event is scheduled for next Thursday. The only two rest days of this meet will take place next Tuesday and Wednesday.