Utah produced the greatest season in the program’s history in 2019, earning its highest national ranking during the season and best finish at the NCAA Championships, coming in 16th.
Utah served notice that it was going to be a national player in 2019 by winning the prestigious Joe Piane Invitational in early October. The Utes beat out No. 1-ranked Colorado by six points for first place and finished ahead of 11 ranked teams—including five inside the top 10. Following their inspiring performance, the Utes were rewarded with the highest national ranking in the program’s history of No. 6.
To begin the postseason, the Utes earned their highest finish ever at the Pac-12 Championships by placing third. The trio of Poppy Tank, Bella Williams and Sarah Feeny paced the Utes with all three finishing in the top 10 to earn All-Pac-12 honors. Tank was sixth, Williams came in seventh and Feeny was 10th. Rounding out Utah’s scoring runners were Cara Woolnough in 27th place and Trina Moreno in the 38th position. Also competing for the Utes were Scarlet Dale, Ellie Lundgreen and Emma Christensen.
Utah hosted the NCAA Mountain Regionals at Rose Park Golf Course and qualified for nationals with a fifth-place finish. Tank and Feeny provided a solid one-two punch by crossing the line 12th and 13th, respectively, and Williams came in 17th. All three earned all-region honors. This marks the third all-region honor for Tank, the second for Feeny and first for Williams. Woolnough finished 30th while Moreno placed in 44th as scoring runners for Utah.
Tank led Utah at NCAAs by placing 74th. Feeny was the second Utah runner to cross the finish line coming in 98th and Williams finished just outside of the top 100.
Many athletes return for a season that has the potential to be very special. Utah welcomes back 33 veterans to the roster and brings in a class of eight freshmen.
Maya LeBar, Jackie Martin and Taylor Watson look to lead in the sprints. Last season, LeBar competed in 10 outdoor meets and finished 14th in the 200 at the Pac-12 Championships. Martin also competed in 10 outdoor meets and earned her best finish at the Portland Twilight by winning the 200m in a personal-best time. Watson completed an impressive freshman campaign by seeing action in nine meets and climbing to second all-time at Utah in the 100m.
Senior Caitlin Faust, junior Whitney Hessler and sophomore Brooklyn James will lead the charge for the middle distance group. Faust has been an integral part of the track and field program but did not compete last year. She ranks fourth all-time in school history in the indoor 600, ninth in the indoor 800 and seventh in the outdoor 800. Hessler competed in nine outdoor meets last season and notched a new PR in the 800m at the Mt. SAC Relays. James looks to back up a solid freshman season, when she competed in 10 outdoor meets and moved into the school record books by ranking 10th in the 800m.
Utah’s strongest and deepest group comes from the distance runners, led by the standout trio of Poppy Tank, Sarah Feeny and Bella Williams. In the school record books, Tank ranks fourth in the outdoor 5K and fifth in the 10K. In the 10K last season, Tank earned all-conference honors by taking seventh place at the Pac-12 Championships and set a new personal best time at the NCAA West Prelims, coming in 13th. Runners such as Sarah Newton, Nicole Griffiths, Cara Woolnough, Natalie Platil and Trina Moreno will all play pivotal roles in the Utes’ success this season.
Senior Kolbi Simms and junior Ruby Jane Mathewson are back to compete in the heptathlon and pentathlon this season. Last year, Sims became the school’s all-time leader in the heptathlon with 5,477 points to finish fifth at the Pac-12 Championships. She also earned All-Pac-12 honors by placing fifth in the high jump at the league championships. Senior Brooke Martin, junior Kayla Rees and sophomore Skyler Blair return for the hurdlers. As a freshman, Blair moved into sixth place all-time in the outdoor 400 meters and fifth in the outdoor 400 hurdles.
Among the freshmen, Aniya Bobo hails from North Ogden, Utah, and attended Weber High School. She notched five top-three finishes in the 400 meters and took 10th in the 400 at the UHSAA State Championships. Ally Gomm attended Provo High School, where she was a two-time Utah state champion in the 300-meter hurdles and the 2017 runner-up in the 400m. Another Utah product, Jasie York, joins the team from Cedar City High School, where she was a three-time state champion. In 2018, she won titles in both the 200 and 400-meter events.
Utah gained one transfer in Oneillia Fuller, who was a two-sport athlete in volleyball and track & field at Savannah State. Fuller finished seventh in the 400 at the MEAC Indoor Championships and 10th in the same event at the MEAC Outdoor Championships.
Kyle Kepler is in his 15th 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.
Kepler has coached six athletes to All-America honors at Utah. Distance runners Amanda Mergaert and Grayson Murphy were both five-time All-Americans. Mergaert earned first-team honors in 2013 in the indoor mile and the outdoor 1,500m, as well as in cross country in 2012. Murphy garnered first-team honors twice in the 3,000 steeplechase. Most recently, Sarah Feeny earned All-American honors in the indoor mile after placing eighth overall at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships. Langley Iverson (2011, indoor high jump), Brianna LeRoy (2012, outdoor high jump), and Rosalie Waller (2014, outdoor 800m) also earned All-America honors at Utah under Kepler.
In cross country, the Utes qualified for the NCAA Championships as a team for the first time in their history in 2015. Utah returned in 2016 and made its most recent appearance in 2019, earning its highest finish ever of 16th. The Utes also recorded their highest finish at the Pac-12 Championships in 2019, placing third. Utah has appeared in the national polls in each of the last six years, earning rankings as high as No. 6 in 2019. Kepler has had athletes qualify individually for the NCAA cross country championship six times. Murphy’s eighth-place finish at the 2017 championships is the best finish for a Utah runner. The Utes have had 11 runners combine for 21 all-region honors while eight runners have earned nine All-Pac-12 accolades.
Under Kepler, 51 athletes have posted 99 NCAA Outdoor preliminary qualifying marks, and 10 athletes have advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Utah has set 18 outdoor and 15 indoor school records since 2006.
Kepler is in his 22nd 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 they have two daughters, Cora and Arielle.
Kelsey Quinn joined the Utah coaching staff in 2019. In her first season, she helped guide the Ute cross country team to a third-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships and a 16th-place showing at the NCAA Championships in a record-setting season. Utah also earned its highest national ranking of No. 6 last year.
Quinn spent the past year as the assistant coach at the University of Portland. She assisted in leading the men’s cross country team to a third-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships while the women recorded their best-ever finish by placing 12th. Between the two programs, Quinn coached five cross country All-Americans during the year, which was a school record.
Also instrumental for the Portland track & field team, Quinn helped Taryn Rawlings to a fourth-place finish in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships and a ninth-place finish in the 1500m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Pilots set four school records under Quinn’s guidance.
Quinn also brings Pac-12 experience to Utah after serving as the director of operations for the Washington track & field/cross country teams. Quinn was the head coach at Warner Pacific College from the fall of 2015 through the spring of 2017. Her first full-time coaching position was at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Before beginning her coaching career, Quinn was a member of the track and field team at Iowa, where she qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Championships in the 400m hurdles and as a member of the 4x400m relay team. Quinn worked as an intern in both Iowa and Iowa State strength and conditioning departments. She designed and implemented conditioning workouts and learned sport-specific lifting techniques.
The Marion, Iowa, native graduated with a bachelor's degree in interdepartmental studies from the University of Iowa, where she was a two-time Big Ten All-Academic selection. She completed a master’s degree in kinesiology at Iowa State.
Chad Colwell is in his third season as an assistant coach for the Utes, overseeing the sprints, hurdles, jumps and multi-event athletes. He brings over 10 years of experience to Utah, coaching at the Division I, Division II and NAIA levels throughout his career.
In just two seasons at the U, Colwell guided the Utes to 13 indoor and 17 outdoor new all-time top-10 times/marks, which includes an overall total of nine that rank among the school’s top-three times and marks.
He was instrumental in helping guide Utah athletes to set three new all-time school records, which included Taylor Watson setting new all-time indoor times in both the 55 and 60-meter dashes, and Kolbi Sims setting a new school record in the heptathlon – a record that had been intact for nearly 12 full years. In addition, he oversaw Skyler Blair run a sub-minute 400-meter hurdles time (59.72), which ranked as the fastest time for a freshman in the Pac-12 and was named a regional qualifier.
During his first season in 2018, Colwell had great success in the sprints area as Alissa Atisme set a new school record in the 60-meter dash (indoor), while also helping guide Utah’s 4x100-meter relay team set a new program record. The 2019 4x100-meter relay squad would go onto break that record, twice in the same season, giving the Utes three new record times in a matter of just two years.
Colwell previously served as assistant women's track and field coach at San Diego State. The Aztecs were ranked 16th in the final 2017 USTFCCA poll. While working at SDSU, Colwell was a volunteer assistant coach at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center (formerly the Olympic Training Center), working with respected jumps coach Jeremy Fischer.
Colwell was an assistant coach at Portland (2013-16), head coach at St. Martin's (2012-13) and head coach at Great Falls (2011-12). While working towards his master's degree, Colwell was a two-year volunteer assistant at Duke University. He was also an assistant coach at Cal Poly Pomona (2007-08) and Eastern Oregon University (2004-06), where he earned his bachelor's degree.
Michael Tamayo is in his first year as Utah’s Director of Operations.
Since 2016, Tamayo was a volunteer coach at UNC Charlotte and co-managed the top local running specialty store in the city. Tamayo competed at UNC Charlotte from 2011-16 and set school records in the 600m, 800m, 1000m and 1500m events. In 2017, Tamayo finished his collegiate career at NCAA preliminaries in the 800 meters and competed in the 1000m semifinals of the USA Championships. Tamayo’s career-best time of 1:48.94 in the 800m event still stands as the school’s all-time record.
Grace Englund enters her first year as the volunteer track & field director of operations.
Englund joins the Utah staff after previously spending five years within the Utah track and field program as a student-athlete. Englund’s main events as a Ute were the 400m, 800m, and as a member of many successful 4x400-meter relay teams.
The Issaquah, Wash. native ranked ninth all-time at Utah in the indoor 800 (2:11.17) at the time, as well as ninth all-time at Utah in the indoor 400 (56.54). Along with her individual success, Englund was instrumental in the 4x400-meter relay squads, one of which holds the indoor school record (3:43.93). Englund also was a member of the indoor relay teams that hold the second and third spots all-time, as well.
During her freshman season, Englund’s 4x400 relay team broke the school record twice during the 2014 indoor season. The squad’s best time of 3:43.93 secured an eighth-place finish at the MPSF Championships. Englund was a member of many relay teams throughout her career and was a solid and consistent leg for the Utes.
Englund tabbed personal-bests in the 800, both indoor and outdoor, during her senior year. Englund recorded her personal-best time in the indoor 800 at the Jackson’s Open to win the event, while notching an outdoor-best time at the Sacramento State Open where she finished fourth overall. Both of Englund’s top 400m times came during her freshman season for the Utes.
Aside from her success on the track, Englund was committed to success in the classroom and graduated with a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Utah and also completed the positive psychology certificate. Englund was a three-time honorable mention Pac-12 All-Academic team selection (2015-16, 2018), as well as a three-time MPSF All-Acadmic honoree (2015, 2017-18).
Three appearances at the NCAA Championships since 2015. Utah earned its first invitation as a team in 2015, finished 20th in 2016, and had its best finish ever of 16th in 2019.
Earned its highest all-time finish at the 2019 Pac-12 Championships, coming in third. Utah also placed fifth in both 2015 and 2016. The Utes’ best NCAA Regional finish was third in 2015. Utah was fourth in 2016, and fifth in both 2017 and 2019.
Six individual NCAA qualifiers in the last 10 seasons, all of them finishing in the top 90 at the NCAA Championships.
Achieved the highest ranking in school history of No. 6 in 2019. Utah has been ranked in each of the last six years.
Grayson Murphy placed eighth at the 2017 NCAA Championships-the highest finish ever by a Ute-to earn All-America honors.
Amanda Mergaert placed 14th at the 2012 NCAA Championships and was named an All-America.
Eight Utes have earned All-Pac-12 Conference honors since joining the league in 2011, with Poppy Tank (6th), Bella Williams (7th) and Sarah Feeny (10th) all placing in the top 10 in 2019. Other top Pac-12 finishers in recent years include Hannah McInturff (10th place in 2015) and Grayson Murphy (12th place in 2016, 5th place in 2017).
Utah's first ever All-Pac-12 Conference honoree in any sport was Amanda Mergaert, who earned second-team honors in 2012.
Under Kyle Kepler, 44 athletes have posted 91 NCAA Outdoor preliminary qualifying marks and 10 athletes have advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Utah's NCAA Regional Championships attendees increased from five in 2006 to as many as 10 in 2013. The Utes have also send three athletes to the NCAA Indoor Championships during that time.
Grayson Murphy was a four-time NCAA qualifier (indoor 5,000 and outdoor 3,000 steeplechase in both 2017 and 2018) during her two-year career. She recorded three top-10 finishes, including fifth in the steeplechase in 2017 and six in 2018.
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 seven years in the Pac-12, Utah had six podium finishes and 33 top-eight finishes at the outdoor championships. Grayson Murphy was the 2018 Pac-12 runnner-up in the steeplechase.
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 one U.S. Senior Nationals qualifier, one U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier, and eight U.S. Junior National qualifiers. Of the eight Utes who competed at U.S. Junior Nationals, six have medaled (finishing in the top six).
Grayson Murphy was the top collegiate finisher with seventh-place finish at the 2018 USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships.
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.
Utah has set 18 outdoor and 15 indoor school records since 2006.
Kyle Kepler has coached five 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.
Grayson Murphy was five-time All-American (twice in both the indoor 5,000 and the outdoor 3,000 steeplechase, and once in cross country) from 2016-18.
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 11 years while his track teams have earned honors seven times. His athletes have combined for 52 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 60 league all-academic cross country and 113 league all-academic track accolades, in addition to 98 MPSF all-academic honors.
14 women have claimed 29 All-America awards all-time at Utah, with 22 coming in track & field and seven in cross country.
Utah athletes have earned 12 All-America citations since 2010.
Grayson Murphy, who transferred to Utah for her final two seasons, is the program's second five-time All-American. She is the first Ute to become a four-time All-American in track & field (indoor 5,000 and outdoor 3,000 steeplechase, 2017-18), and she earned All-America honors in cross country in 2017.
Amanda Mergaert became the school’s first five-time All-American. She was an All-American three times in the 1,500m—she placed third in the event in 2013 to earned first-team honors and was a second-team honoree in 2011 and ’12. Mergaert was also an All-American in indoor track by placing fifth in the mile 2013. In cross country, Mergaert placed 14th at the 2012 NCAA Championships, which is the highest finish ever by a Ute.
Jill Molen was a four-time All-American, earning honors in cross country in 1981 and three times in track in 1982 (3 Mile, 5000m, 10000m). She was the 1982 national champion in the 10,000 meters.
Carla Pittelkow was an All-American in cross country in 1981 and twice in track 1982 (1500m, 5000m).
Brenda Alcorn was a two-time All-American in the high jump (1989 and ’91).