Men's cross country shines at Utah State Invitational without top runners

(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU cross country teams kicked off the 2012 season on Saturday at the Utah State Invitational with great performances and some strategy to help propel them throughout the season.

The BYU men’s team finished first overall in a four-mile race in front of Weber State, Utah, UVU and Utah State, without its top four runners competing in the race.

“We competed hard today and ended up winning even though we held out our top four runners,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. “It was a really nice start to the season, and it gave opportunities to a lot of our other runners. Steve Flint ran a great race and Spencer Gardner led for much of it. I'm pleased with our depth. If we can finish two, four and five without our top-four runners, we show we have a good overall group. It was a good rust buster."

Steve Flint, a preseason All-West Coast Conference honoree, finished second with a time of 18 minutes 50 seconds. Spencer Gardner finished fourth and Thomas Gruenewald, fifth with times of 18:54 and 18:57, respectively. The final two runners for BYU were Brian Palmer and Taylor Farnsworth who crossed the inish line ninth and 10th, respectively.

Eric Harris, the top incoming freshman for BYU, ran unattached and would have finished eighth or ninth overall if he ran with the team.

Weber State’s John Coyle finished first overall with a time of 18:46.

The men’s team does not compete until Sept. 14 when both the men's and women's teams will compete in the annual BYU Autumn Classic, the first and only home event of the season.

Individual results from the Utah State Invitational can be found here.

Team results can be found here.