Left, Latter-day Saint Lexy Halladay-Lowry races to All-American honors during the steeplechase race at the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Right, Halladay-Lowry’s leadership will be counted upon this year as BYU begins competing in the Big 12 Conference. (Images courtesy of BYU Photo)
BYU’s Lexy Halladay-Lowry adds her name to growing list of elite Latter-day Saint steeplechasers
Idaho native prepping for maiden Big 12 competition following recent national success in the track & field.
By Jason Swensen
27 Jul 2023
Brigham Young University’s Lexy Halladay-Lowry has counted an impressive roster of elite Latter-day Saint distance runners as teammates — including Anna Camp-Bennett, Aubrey Frentheway Nielsen, Courtney Wayment, Claire Seymour, Alena Ellsworth and Whittni Orton Morgan.
Now each of those Cougar greats have moved on, opening up a leadership void that Halladay-Lowry is poised to fill as BYU makes its historic shift to Big 12 competition.
She’s eager to sprint down the paths her speedy predecessors have blazed.
“Being able to watch what all those women have done in a BYU singlet just shows what’s possible,” Halladay-Lowry told Church Ball Magazine. “Now every time I step to the line, I know it’s not just for me — it’s for my teammates, for past Cougars and for future generations of people who will run at BYU.”
The Boise, Idaho, native will enter her senior year of collegiate cross country and track competition with a well-established rep. While Halladay-Lowry may be one of the “new girls” competing in the Big 12, her rivals all know who she is.
For starters, Halladay-Lowry is already a national champ and an accomplished individual performer. She was a freshman on BYU’s 2020-21 NCAA Cross Country Championship squad, and has claimed All-America honors in cross country and in the NCAA steeplechase.
And last month, she placed eighth at the U.S.A. Track and Field Championships in a steeplechase final that included Wayment, her former Cougar teammate.
“I just feel gratitude,” said Halladay-Lowry, reflecting on her success in recent national competitions. “I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given at BYU — especially to be on this team with Coach [Diljeet] Taylor and all of my teammates.”
Racing at “Steeplechase U”
Halladay-Lowry can now add her name to the growing list of BYU-produced elite Latter-day Saint steeplechasers that stretches back to the glory days of multi-Olympian Henry Marsh.
More recently, BYU’s Erica Birk-Jarvis was a 2019 All-American in the steeplechase — a long-distance track & field event that includes several barriers and water jumps.
Wayment claimed the NCAA national title three years later and has gone on to become one of the world’s top steeplechasers.
Meanwhile, returned missionary Kenneth Rooks etched his name on Cougar lore this year when he won the men’s 2023 NCAA steeplechase title and, weeks later, defeated a field of pros in the U.S. track and field championships.
BYU has become “Steeple U.”
“Honestly, the steeplechase is a hard event,” said Halladay-Lowry. “It’s so hard on your body.”
The newly awarded steeplechase All-American credits the school’s success to BYU coaches who “just seem to have the event down.”
Halladay-Lowry echoes many of her former teammates when talking about the impact Taylor has had on her BYU steeplechase and running career.
“Coach Taylor is all about the process and doing things the right way,” she said. “My journey at BYU has been far from linear…. But Coach has always believed in me. She’s promised me success if I do things the right way.”
A Gem State running prodigy
Halladay-Lowry’s collegiate success is no surprise to those who followed her prep career at Idaho’s Mountain View High School. She won multiple state titles, finished 4th in the 2018 Foot Locker Nationals and was one of the country’s most highly recruited high school distance runners.
Growing up in western Idaho, Halladay-Lowry’s first love was soccer. But even on the pitch, she discovered she could "run for days and days — I was always the most aerobically fit player on the soccer team.”
Recognizing his daughter’s speed and endurance, Scot Halladay encouraged young Lexy to try distance running. She broke the record in the mile at her elementary school. Soon she was competing in state and national meets. As a high school freshman she set a national record for her age in the mile.
Running, she learned, could take her far. It was also a lot of fun. “I genuinely love the sport.”
Halladay-Lowry considered several colleges. But her desire to maximize her talents under the tutelage of “Coach T” made BYU a fairly easy choice. She was also eager to represent her faith at the Church-sponsored school.
Lexy Halladay-Lowry, far right, celebrates with her BYU cross country teammates after the squad claimed the 2021 NCAA Cross Country Championship. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
Halladay-Lowry is learning life lessons at BYU that she believes will serve her long after her own final Cougar competition. Several of the former BYU athletes taught her "to be willing to take people with you — even when you are striving so hard to make it to the top.”
Track and field events are largely individual events. But even competing solo, noted Halladay-Lowry, is enhanced “when you understand it’s about much more than just you.”
Representing a Church-sponsored university in athletic competition, she added, is a responsibility and a blessing. Halladay-Lowry advocates the paradoxical power of selflessness.
“You can be a leader and find ways to be Christ-like to one another. You can realize that another person’s success takes nothing away from your own success.”
Halladay-Lowry’s natural competitiveness pushes her to maximize her talents to run far and run fast. Winning is a lot of fun. “But to watch your teammates achieve something that you know they have been working so hard for is so much more satisfying.”
During warm-ups before both the recent NCAAs and the U.S. nationals, she said a silent prayer. “I asked Heavenly Father to help me run in a way that represents the school and everything BYU stands for.”
Halladay-Lowry’s life-changing highlights at BYU stretch beyond track meets and All-American honors. Lexy Halladay and Jorgen Lowry were fellow students at Mountain View High School. They were high school friends, but never dated. The two reconnected after Lowry returned from his mission and enrolled at BYU. They started dating following their freshman year in Provo and married last year on August 13th.
“We’re coming up on our first anniversary,” she marveled, laughing.
Having a husband to come home offers stability to her demanding life. "I know I always have Jorgen’s support. He wants to see me succeed.”
Being married has also helped Halladay-Lowry prioritize her time as a student-athlete, a team leader and a wife.
With the 2023 outdoor track and field season behind her, Halladay-Lowry is eager for BYU distance runners to make noise in the Big 12. She hopes to add a conference championship to her collegiate resume.
“It's going to be great. I’m so excited to be part of that conference.”
She knows claiming a cross country title for BYU in the Big 12 won’t be easy.
Oklahoma State is expected to be one of the top women's teams in the Big 12. The Cowgirls will be paced by Halladay-Lowry’s friend and fellow Latter-day Saint, Taylor Roe.
In recent years, Halladay-Lowry has watched friends/teammates such as Wayment, Camp-Bennett and Orton Morgan ascend the professional ranks. She appreciates the difficulty of taking that next competitive step. She knows she has to continue to improve.
“But if I continue to work hard and accomplish my goals, I believe [professional running] will be a reality.”