(Photo by Ryan Waite)
PROVO, Utah – The BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams open up the 2016 season by hosting the Autumn Classic Saturday morning at Clarence F. Robison Track in Provo.
BYU will host Weber State, and the two schools will participate in a dual meet featuring a college men’s four mile and a college women’s three mile.
“We look forward to a good matchup with Weber State on both on the men’s and women’s side,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. “Our women are hoping to run well enough to defend our home turf, and our men’s team really needs to be on point and run well. I definitely think we will be able to.”
The men’s four mile will feature seven BYU athletes, including seniors and co-captains Nicolas Montanez and Mitchell Briggs. Montanez was the top returner from the conference meet in 2015 after finishing in second place behind former Cougar Aaron Fletcher.
“Nico’s training has stepped up over the summertime, and he has looked very consistent. I expect him to run very well,” Eyestone said. “And Mitchell has always been steady and consistent also, so he is going to provide some good support as well.”
Junior Jonathan Harper will compete alongside the senior captions.
“Jonathan has had a really good offseason and is running smart right now,” Eyestone said. “He doesn’t seem to be pushing himself too hard because more than ever he understands the importance of being 100 percent at the end of the year, rather than at the beginning or middle of the year.”
Rory Linkletter, an NCAA qualifier in the 5000 meters in track and field, will suit up this weekend as well.
“Rory is coming off a navicular stress reaction—basically a broken bone in his foot—but he has come back from that ahead of schedule,” Eyestone said. “He’s still got some room to go, but he’ll only continue to get better.
Clayton Young, Erik Harris and Daniel Carney round out the list of Cougar competitors. Eyestone said that the trio provides nice depth to the team.
The men’s cross country team is currently ranked fourth in the regional USTFCCCA poll and 13th in national rankings. They sit in fourth in the Mountain Region after a 12th-place finish at the last year’s NCAA Championships.
The women’s three-mile race will feature a total of 11 Cougar runners, many of whom are freshmen and sophomores.
“We have a young women’s team, but our women obviously want to represent and run really well,” Eyestone said.
Weber State boasts a strong returning team that is ranked third in the Mountain Region, but the Cougars are looking forward to the competition.
Eyestone expects senior Yesenia Silva, junior Ashleigh Warner and freshman Olivia Hoj to post good times for the team and set the tone for the rest of the season.
The women’s team ranks fourth overall in the Mountain Region, just one spot behind Weber State. The team sits in 27th place in the national rankings after a 23rd-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Championships.
The college men’s four-mile race is set to begin at 9:45 a.m. MDT on Saturday at the Clarence F. Robinson Track and Field Complex on the BYU campus. The college women’s three-mile race will begin at 10:50 a.m. MDT. Team awards will be presented at 12:50 p.m. MDT.
“There won’t be very many teams out there, but the people that are there are good,” Eyestone said. “Hopefully we have lots of people out there cheering for us,” Eyestone said.
Entrance to the Autumn Classic is $5. Children five and under are free. Any athlete age 14 and under that wears their track or cross country uniform is admitted free.