By Katelyn Field
Photos by Kurt Johnson
Aside from holding multiple cross country state records, Sky View High School senior Conner Mantz claims the Class 4A state records in both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. He set both of those with 4:10.47 and 8:57.99 times, during his junior year at the 2014 state championships.
Mantz’s goal entering the 2015 state championships was to break the all-classifications records of 4:07.95 for the 1600, and 8:49.08 for the 3200 to end his high school track career.
“I’m just excited to go for it,” Mantz said prior to the competition. “It’ll probably be the worst four and nine minutes of my life… It’ll be fun.”
Under less than ideal weather conditions, he was unable to meet that goal, but he did add another 3200-meter state title to his resume, running a 9:03.47 on the track at Brigham Young University. He finished second in the 4A 1600, running a 4:13.68.
Though successful, this year has certainly not been without setbacks for Mantz. A stress fracture in his femur near the end of the cross country season was one of the biggest challenges for him.
“I worked so hard and then not being able to have any good results to show for it… it wasn’t as rewarding.” Mantz said in looking back at cross country season.
This injury led to a disappointing performance at the cross country state championships which would have discouraged many athletes. Instead, Conner revealed it to be, “A mental wake-up.”
“It put things into perspective- like hey, you’ve been injured, you’ve gotta work harder,” Mantz said.
Work harder is just what he did, and Mantz had the incredible opportunity to represent the USA at two international cross country meets – the Pan American Cross Country Cup in February and the World Junior Men’s Cross Country Championships in March.
Of the Pan-Am Cup, which took place in Columbia, Mantz stated “(It) was just a new experience race-wise because it was my first time repping the U.S.” This humbling experience gave him a new drive, he revealed, to not just be the best in Utah or America, “But see what I can do on an international level.”
At the World Junior Championships, Mantz, who placed 29th out of 113, had the opportunity to compete against harriers from over 21 countries.
“Running has just been an adventure- it went further than I’d ever imagined,” Mantz said. “It’s given me a lot more opportunities to travel and experience new things.”
Along with these incredible experiences, Conner stated that the friendships he’s made have been one of the most rewarding parts of his running career thus far.
In the future, Mantz hopes to compete for the United States as many times as he can. He will be running for Brigham Young University after serving a two-year mission in Ghana for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“(Running for) BYU will hopefully take me to a higher level and help me become faster and better.” Conner said. “My races are really just a product of a lot of good coaching and encouragement.”
Teammates and competitors of Mantz alike can attest to his good character and strong drive, and it’s apparent he will go far wherever his running takes him.