BYU men’s cross country returns a strong group of veteran runners and hopes to duplicate its recent success at the conference, regional and NCAA championship levels.
“We have had two great seasons, finishing in fourth and sixth place in the country and we are returning half a dozen seniors,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. “We have a deep team that I think can be just as good as last year. “
The Cougars lose two All-Americans in Jared Ward and Rex Shields, but return five of their top seven finishers from the NCAA championships, including All-American Tylor Thatcher.
“Tylor Thatcher has really stepped up,” Eyestone said. “I think will be a top contender in the nation and our leader.”
Thatcher, a senior from Spokane, Wash., finished fourth in the conference and 34th at the NCAA Championships last year. With Thatcher leading the way and an experienced, talented roster, the Cougars have high expectations in the conference and at the national championships.
“As long as our guys are healthy, we should be able to comfortably take the conference,” Thatcher said. “If we continue to live up to our potential we could be a podium team. It would take a group effort for sure.”
Seniors Tommy Gruenewald and Jason Witt are expected to be key contributors, as Gruenewald finished 91st at the national meet and Witt after finished sixth in the conference last year. Senior Conner Peloquin finished 10th in the conference and 84th at the NCAA championships last year. Junior Steve Flint and senior Curtis Carr should help the Cougars after strong showings toward the end of last season.
The Cougars begin the season on Sept. 6 at the Utah Open in Salt Lake, a race hosted by the University of Utah at Murray City Park. BYU hosts its only home meet of the season on Sept. 14.
The Cougars will travel to the University of Minnesota for the Griak Invitational on Sept. 28 and to the University of Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 19.
The WCC championships will be in Malibu, Calif., on Nov. 2 followed by the NCAA Mountain Regional championships in Ogden, Utah. The NCAA championships will be hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23.