Cross country starts season at Utah Open

Senior Steve Flint competes in a race last season (Photo by BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah—BYU cross country gets underway Friday as the men’s and women’s teams head to Murray City Park in Salt Lake City for the Utah Open. The meet will feature teams from Utah and Idaho.

Last year, the men’s team won the West Coast Conference title and finished fourth nationally. The Cougars look to build on their success despite losing three of their top four finishers from last year’s NCAA Championships.

“A lot of people would say this will be a rebuilding year, losing two All-Americans and a lot of experience and talent,” men’s head coach Ed Eyestone said. “But some new guys will contribute and our experienced guys will step up. I think we’ll be well represented."

Jonathan Nelson, Spencer Gardner, Conner Peloquin, Mitchell Briggs, Travis Fuller and Spencer Hanson will represent the team as attached runners.

Nelson is the Cougars’ top returning finisher from last year. He won last year’s Utah Open and placed third on the team at the NCAA Championships. Gardner scored points for the team at the West Coast Conference Championships and the NCAA Championships last season.

Peloquin, who redshirted last year, also adds experience to BYU’s young roster. He scored points at several meets and finished third among Cougar runners at the NCAA Championships in 2012.

The women’s team finished third in the WCC and 28th nationally last season. The team returns three of its four top finishers from last year’s NCAA Championships in Andrea Harrison, Natalie Shields and Makenna Smith.

Harrison earned the Cougars’ top spot in five of the six meets she competed in last year, including the conference and national championships.

With eight true freshmen on his team, women’s head coach Patrick Shane is excited to see what his younger runners will do in the first meet of the year.

“I want to see where they are at and how they stack up against race competition,” Shane said. “We haven’t had freshman talent like this in ten to 15 years.”

The races will begin at 3:00 MDT on Friday. The men’s race will be a 6k and the women’s race will be a 4k. Click here for more event information.