(Photo by BYU Photo)
SUNNYVALE, Calif. – No. 19 BYU men’s cross country narrowly failed to repeat as West Coast Conference champions Saturday at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale.
“On paper, Portland was a much better team coming into the meet,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “We put ourselves in a great position to come up with an upset, but just fell a few points short. Going into the region meet, all we can ask is that our guys race the best they have all season, and I think we got that today.”
The Cougars finished with 31 points, second to No. 8 Portland’s score of 28. In the four years BYU has competed in the WCC, the Cougars and Pilots have now each claimed the conference crown twice.
Jonathan Nelson finished first for BYU, using a strong finish to break up Portland’s top three runners. The junior from Provo placed third overall, just behind Pilot runners David Perry and Scott Fauble. With his mark of 23:27.6 on the 8K course, Nelson placed first for the Cougars for the fourth time this season.
After Portland’s Reid Buchanan became the third finisher from Portland and fourth finisher overall, three Cougars crossed the line. Senior Conner Peloquin, who ran as the overall leader for most of the race, placed fifth overall with a time of 23:31.0. Junior Aaron Fletcher (23:32.4) and senior Steve Flint (23:33.6) placed sixth and seventh overall.
Freshman Connor McMillan rounded out the scoring for BYU, finishing 10th overall with a time of 23:36.7. Cougars Spencer Hanson (23:42.4) and Jonathan Harper (23:50.5) finished 12th and 14th overall.
BYU and Portland positioned themselves for the top two spots early and maintained their groups at the front throughout the race. Less than four points separated the two teams at each timed split on the course. A blistering pace saw all five of the Cougars’ scorers finish at a 4:45 mile pace or better.
BYU next competes at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships Nov. 14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.