PROVO, Utah -- In a highly competetive Pre-Nationals meet at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., the No. 3 BYU men's cross country team placed second in a field of 136 teams, with a score of 127.
The University of Colorado won the meet with an impressive team score of 72 and Oregon finished just behind the Cougars with a score of 152. Jared Ward finished first for BYU and eighth overall with a time of 23:22.4.
"The guys did just about everything we would have wanted out of them," head coach Ed Eyestone said. "We finished second at the Pre-Nationals race on a bit of an off day for us so I'm proud of the guys and I still think we're doing what needs to be done. Now it's just a matter of us getting healthy going into the championship portion of the season and I think we'll be fine."
Eyestone said a couple runners competed despite feeling under the weather and senior co-captain Rex Shields was held out of the race with a stomach flu.
"Cross country guys are getting injured or sick all the time, that's why having a deep team is so important," Eyestone said. "We found out just how deep Colorado's team is. They were a better team today and they would've been a better team even if we had been at full strength with Rex. We just had a couple guys who ran OK races today, maybe not their finest races of the season. All in all we just need to make sure we deliver on race day."
Besides Ward, BYU's top-5 included Tylor Thatcher (20th overall, 23:48.0), Jason Witt (21st overall, 23:49.1), Conner Peloquin (37th overall, 23:56.4) and Steve Flint (41st overall, 23:58.7). The compression for the Cougars' scoring runners was about 36 seconds, something Eyestone hopes to improve on at the upcoming West Coast Conference championships.
"As it gets late in the season, everyone's game has to rise," Eyestone said. "If you want to be a podium team then your guys have to bring it at the end. You can't be content with just being good, you've got to be excellent."
The WCC championships are up next for the Cougars and will take place on Oct. 27.
Complete results from the men's seeded Pre-Nationals race can be found here.