(Photo by Jaren Wilkey)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – BYU men’s cross country put the cap on a successful season with a 12th-place overall team finish at the NCAA Championships on Saturday.
BYU head coach Ed Eyestone had hoped for a better result, but he was still very pleased with his team and the season they put together.
“Our expectations going in were much higher, but I’m proud of the guys for the effort they put forth,” Eyestone said. “It was a very fast start, and I think we ran smart. If you go out too hard in a race like that, it can totally destroy you.”
Dallin Farnsworth led the way in the 10k for the Cougars with a 74th-place finish. Aaron Fletcher was in the top 35 at the 8k mark, but his pace slowed over the final 2,000 meters as he finished 81st. Connor McMillan (84th), Dallin Taylor (132nd) and Nicolas Montanez (146th) rounded out the BYU team score of 406 points. Dylan Shawhan (155th) and Jonathan Harper (225th) also ran in uniform for the Cougars.
“Ultimately, we just weren’t quite as high as I would have liked to see us,” Eyestone said. “It wasn’t the best day, but we still finished 12th out of 301 (NCAA Division I) teams in the nation. There’s nothing to be too discouraged about considering it was a really successful year for us. I told the guys last night that if the season were to end right then, it would still have been a really good year for us.”
No. 2 Syracuse (82 points) upset No.1 Colorado (91 points) as the Buffaloes’ streak of back-to-back national titles came to an end. Stanford (third), Oregon (fourth) and Iona (fifth) rounded out the top five teams. Oregon junior Edward Cheserek became the first man ever to win three successive NCAA individual titles with a time of 28:45.8.
Fletcher, who has put together a remarkable senior campaign, fell short of his goal of becoming an All-American for the 2015 season. In NCAA Division I cross country, the top-40 finishers at the NCAA Championships are named to the All-America team.
“Our team captain, Aaron Fletcher, did a great job of putting himself in a position where he wanted to be,” Eyestone said. “He was shooting for a top 25 spot, which he maintained through about eight kilometers. From then on, he kind of ran out of gas. I was proud of his effort, but he came up about two kilometers short.”
Eyestone believed his team was still a little tired after last Friday’s regional meet. It was the first time all season BYU had only one week to recover between meets. He believed fatigue was a contributing factor to his team’s inability to finish where they had hoped.
BYU will return five of the seven runners from this year’s NCAA team in 2016. Fletcher and Shawhan are seniors and will graduate. Four of the five returners were underclassmen this season.
With the 12th-place finish, BYU has now finished in the top 20 in the country for eight-consecutive seasons. It is also the 14th time in Eyestone’s 16 years as head coach that the Cougars have finished the year in the top 20.
Click here for complete meet results.