(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah - He may be an All-American, but BYU distance runner sophomore Rory Linkletter is preparing to suit up for Team Canada and compete at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in March in Kampala, Uganda.
At a race in which only the top six finishers are officially named as members of Team Canada, Linkletter competed in the 2016 Canadian Cross Country Championships (10k) on November 25 and finished in sixth place overall with a time of 30:09.7. With his ticket punched, Linkletter will travel to Uganda for the world championships on March 26 with hopes of representing his country well.
“It was a really cool experience to compete at the qualifiers, and I was thrilled with the result,” Linkletter said. “Mission accomplished. I already had a good race at NCAAs the week before, so I already had confidence based off of that, but this was an awesome way to cap off a good cross country season.”
The Canadian Cross Country Championships came only a week after the NCAA National Championships, a race in which Linkletter placed 32nd, helping BYU to a seventh-place overall finish, and additionally was named an All-American. The sophomore said that after a successful season in collegiate cross country, he felt confident going in to the Canadian Championships.
“Coach and I had talked prior, and we were confident that if I ran a smart and tough race and didn’t feel the NCAA meet too much in my legs that I had a good chance of making in the team,” he said. “I ran a conservative race plan where I just moved up progressively throughout the race to try to get that spot. With about two or three kilometers to go, I was pretty confident that I was going to make it. It got close, but we achieved it.”
The sophomore was a member of Team Canada’s junior men’s team in 2014 and leaned on his experience to prepare him for another world competition.
“Juniors in 2014 has been the number-one thing that has helped me take my running to the next level,” Linkletter said. “That experience helped me realize that there is so much more to achieve. It opened up my eyes to bigger things, so that was huge.”
BYU cross country head coach Ed Eyestone will also make the trip to Uganda with Linkletter, but not as his coach. Eyestone has been named the Team USA senior men’s coach. Eyestone participated at Worlds in 2015 as Team USA’s junior men’s coach, and he is now taking his place at the head of Team USA as their senior men’s coach.
“I am really looking forward to be going with Team USA and working with their senior men,” Eyestone said. “It was also exciting for Rory to be able to qualify for Team Canada because we’ll both be going to Africa in March. I was with the junior men’s team in 2015 when we went to China when Rory was on the junior Canadian team there as well, so it was fun to keep an eye out for him, and even coach against him, though our juniors did prevail over Team Canada,” Eyestone added with a smile.
The world championships occur every other year, with the most recent in Guiyang, China, at which Kenya took first place, with the United States taking sixth overall in the senior men’s competition. Linkletter participated on the Canadian junior men’s team that finished in 16th overall, with Kenya claiming first.