Utahns, former college teammates punch ticket to Summer Olympics
Feb 4, 2024, 6:26 PM | Updated: 8:24 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns Conner Mantz and Clayton Young, former Brigham Young University teammates, are heading to Paris this summer to participate in the Summer Olympics.
The training partners earned their spot on Team USA after finishing first and second at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on Saturday.
“I don’t think it’s hit yet,” Mantz said.
Mantz and Young crossed the finish line nearly side by side.
“(Sunday) morning I woke up and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, it wasn’t a dream,'” Young said.
The two runners qualified for the trials after competing in the Chicago Marathon. Mantz did not qualify the year before.
“We’ve been preparing for this race for many years but it really didn’t start hitting us until, I would say about a year ago as we were both were preparing for the Chicago Marathon,” Young said. “That’s where the dream really started to maybe become a reality.”
Fast forward to Saturday, Mantz finished first at the trials with a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 8 seconds, which was one second ahead of Young.
Heading toward the finish line
Mantz said his and Young’s experience toward the finish line were somewhat different.
Mantz was zoned in on just making it to the end.
“The morning of the race, I did wake up from a dream where I didn’t finish,” he said. “I knew my body was pretty tired, but it was like, I don’t want to mess this up. Everything is going perfect.”
As Mantz started to show fatigue, Young said his goal was making sure they both could earn a spot on Team USA with only two spots open.
“If one of us takes third, there’s a chance that one of us won’t make it to the Olympics. So my number one goal from there on out was, ‘OK, what can I do to get both of us to the finish line,'” Young said.
A story book ending
While it is an individual race, the two ran as a team, something they’ve done since 2017, and crossed the finish line almost like a story book ending.
“It wasn’t scripted,” Young said. “It just what happened. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Mantz and Young will be resting for a few days before they begin training for Paris. Young said he has never left the country before, and is looking forward to visiting Europe with his family and Mantz as well.
“To really just soak in what it means to be an Olympian and to share that side by side, not only with a friend, but a teammate and a brother,” Young said.
Mantz said he’s excited to try to do “something special,” whether that’s fighting for a medal or “fighting for 20th place.”
“I’m really looking forward to just competing at the highest level with Clayton and then being able to train everyday again.”