Take a glimpse at the great facilities and the people who make up the Utah cross country and track & field program.
Tag along with Jessica Sams to experience what a typical meet day is like for a Utah student-athlete.
Utah made its second straight appearance at the NCAA Championships and placed 20th for the program’s all-time highest finish. The Utes were ranked in the top 25 the majority of the season and peaked at No. 17 headed into the Pac-12 Championships, where they equaled their program’s best mark with a fifth-place finish.
Junior Grayson Murphy led the Utes at nationals by placing 53rd while junior Hannah McInturff came in 60th. Both were only a few seconds out of the top 40, which would have earned them All-America honors. Freshman Poppy Tank was Utah’s No. 3 runner coming in 110th. Amanda Gehrich and Ashley Licata also scored for the Utes.
Murphy, McIntruff and Tank earned all-region honors as Utah placed fourth in a loaded NCAA Mountain Region field. A few weeks earlier, Muphy finished 12th at the Pac-12 Championships to earn second team all-league honors. Senior Giselle Slotboom placed 33rd at the Pac-12 Championships, while Gehrich and Tank were 39th and 40th, respectively.
The sprint and field event athletes are looking to build on what the distance runners achieved in cross country with some success of their own.
The Utes will look to junior Raynee Helm, true freshman Holly Stallman and redshirt freshman Ann Wingeleth in the short distances. Helm ranks 10th all-time at Utah in the outdoor 100 meters. In the long sprints, the Utes will look to senior Rhianna Williams and juniors Grace Englund and Mesa Weidle. Williams holds the school record in the indoor 400 and is second all-time in the indoor 200.
Sophomore Eliza Hansen led the way in the high jump in 2016. Wingeleth won multiple Wyoming state championships all three jumping events. Newcomers to the jumps group are freshmen Holly Stallman, Suzannah Stark and Piper Wehrli.
Juniors Grayson Murphy and Hannah McInturff will lead Utah in the distance events. Freshmen Poppy Tank, Amanda Gehrich and Ashley Licata are coming off very good cross country seasons.
Junior Jessica Sams, who redshirted last track and cross country season, ranks in the top 10 all-time at Utah in the indoor and outdoor 5,000 and indoor 3,000. Junior Shaylen Crook ranks in the top 10 all-time at Utah in the outdoor 10,000 and indoor 5,000. Senior Becky Sarmiento holds the Utah school record in the 3,000 steeplechase.
Junior Madison Lanford finished 12th in the heptathlon at the Pac-12 Championships and had a personal-best 4,293 points. Sophomore Lauren McCluskey, who ranks 10th all-time at Utah in the indoor pentathlon, also competed in the heptathlon at the Pac-12 Championships.
Sophomore Christine Glasmann returns to represent the Utes in the javelin after finishing 16th at the 2016 Pac-12 Championships. Her personal-best throw of 158’ 10” ranks second all-time at Utah and was the second-best mark in the Pac-12 for the year.
Kyle Kepler is in his 12th year as the head coach of the Utah women’s cross country and track & field programs. Kepler’s organization and attention to detail have allowed him to develop a solid foundation and create a competitive program that has steadily improved each year.
He has coached four athletes to All-America honors at Utah. Nine athletes have combined for 15 appearances in the NCAA track & field finals.
Cross country qualified for the NCAA Championships as a team for the first time in 2015 and repeated that feat in 2016 with a 20th-place finish—setting a program-best mark. He has also sent individuals to the NCAA Cross Country Championships five times.
The Utes have had 10 runners combine for 15 all-region honors while four runners have earned five All-Pac-12 accolades. During Utah's six years in the Mountain West Conference under Kepler, the Utes won nine individual outdoor conference titles and two indoor titles.
Kepler is in his 18th year coaching at the NCAA Division I level. Prior to coming to Utah, Kepler served as Northern Iowa’s head men’s and women’s cross country coach and assistant track and field coach for two seasons. He was on staff at UNI for a total of seven years, serving as an assistant cross country coach for five years prior to being named head coach in 2003.
Kepler is married to Hannah Vickery and the couple has an infant daughter Cora.
Pete Herber, who joined the Utes as an assistant coach in 2014-15, oversees the sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers and multi-event athletes.
Herber coached at South Florida in the 2013-14 season as an assistant coach. He helped lead three athletes to All-America honors and two to American Athletic Conference titles.
Prior to USF, Herber spent six years at Iowa State University with three NCAA qualifiers and one U.S. Championships qualifier. Herber was the head coach at Coe College from 2005-07 after serving as an assistant with the program during two different stints (1996-98, 2001-05).
Herber and his wife, Dawn, have a daughter, Ellie, and a son, Tate.
Mackenzie Wartenberger, the former head cross country and assistant track coach at Radford University, is in her third season working with Utah’s distance runners. She helped Ute cross country qualify for the NCAA Championships as a team for the first time in 2015 and again in 2016, when it had a 20th-place finish.
In two years at Radford, women’s cross country placed third at the 2014 Big South Championships for its best finish since 1990. The men’s squad finished fourth for its best placing since 2007. In track, the women’s distance runners won six conference titles.
She was also an assistant distance coach at UNC Charlotte from 2009-13, coaching three NCAA Outdoor Championships qualifiers.
The North Carolina native is married to husband Marc.
Back-to-back appearances at the NCAA Championships. Utah qualified as a team for the first time in 2015 and returned to record their all-time best finish of 20th in 2016. The Utes have also placed fifth at past two Pac-12 Championships. Utah finished third at NCAA Regionals in 2015 and came in fourth in 2016.
Five individual NCAA qualifiers in the last nine seasons, all of them finishing in the top 90 at the NCAA Championships.
Utah has been ranked as high as 17th over the past two seasons, the highest ranking in school history.
Amanda Mergaert placed 14th at the 2012 NCAA Championships—the highest finish ever by a Ute—to earn All-America honors.
Five Utes have earned All-Pac-12 Conference honors since 2011, including Hannah McInturff (10th place in 2015) and Grayson Murphy (12th place in 2016).
Utah’s first ever All-Pac-12 Conference honoree in any sport was Amanda Mergaert, who earned second-team honors in 2012.
38 athletes have posted 82 NCAA Outdoor preliminary qualifying marks and nine athletes have advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships under Kyle Kepler. Utah’s NCAA Outdoor Regional Championships attendees increased from five in 2006 to as many as 10 in 2013. The Utes have also sent two athletes to the NCAA Indoor Championships under Kepler.
Amanda Mergaert (2011-13, 1,500) and Chelsea Shapard (2007-09, 400 hurdles) were both three-time NCAA attendees. Mergaert finished third in the 1,500 at NCAAs as a senior in 2013. She was the 2011 USTFCCCA Mountain Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year.
In its first five years in the Pac-12 Conference, Utah had four podium finishes and 25 top-eight finishes at the outdoor championships.
Two Utes have won Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor track championships: Amanda Mergaert (Mile in 2012) and Rebekah Winterton (5000m in 2014).
Since 2010, Utah has had eight U.S. Junior National qualifiers and one U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier. Of the eight qualifiers for U.S. Junior Nationals, six have medaled (finishing in the top six).
Sarah Feeny was a bronze medalist at the 2015 Pan American Juniors and a silver medalist at the U.S. Juniors in the 1500 meters. In 2016, Chrissy Glasmann finished sixth in the javelin at U.S. Junior Championships.
Over the last eight years, Utah athletes recorded over 500 new all-time top-10 performances. Utah has set 17 outdoor and 15 indoor school records since 2006.
Kyle Kepler has coached four athletes to All-America honors at Utah.
Amanda Mergaert was a five-time All-American with her career culminating in first-team honors in cross country in 2012 and the indoor mile and the outdoor 1,500 in 2013.
Langley Iverson (2011, indoor high jump), Brianna LeRoy (2012, outdoor high jump), and Rosalie Waller (2014, outdoor 800) have also earned All-America honors at Utah under Kepler.
Kyle Kepler’s cross country teams have earned USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honors nine years while his track teams have been recognized six times. Ute athletes have combined for 42 individual honors from the USTFCCCA between track and cross country.
Lauren Endersen was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2008 and 2009, while Rosalie Waller was honored in 2014.
Since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011-12, the Utes have earned 48 all-academic cross country and 81 all-academic track accolades, in addition to 74 MPSF all-academic honors.
Two Pac-12 Post Graduate Scholarship honorees.