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BYU takes second at Mountain Region meet, earns ticket to nationals
PROVO, Utah – Led by junior co-captain Jared Ward, the No. 7 BYU men’s cross country team finished second behind No. 18 Northern Arizona at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships, earning an automatic bid to next week’s national championship race.
“We did exactly what we needed to,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. “We had two goals going into the regional race and that was to advance and to save some juice for next week, and we were able to do that.”
Ward placed third overall with a time of 30:06.3, finishing behind Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka, who took the individual crown, and Anthony Rotich from UTEP, who took second. Tylor Thatcher finished ninth overall and second for the Cougars with a time of 30:17.3.
The other scoring runners for BYU were Rex Shields (30:31.4), Jason Witt (30:43.8) and Conner Peloquin (30:46.9), who finished 15th, 20th and 21st, respectively, overall. Curtis Carr (31:01.8) and Erik Harris (31:03.7) finished 32nd and 33rd overall and rounded out the sixth and seventh spots for the Cougars.
BYU finished with a team score of 68, eight points behind NAU and one point ahead of No. 2 Colorado. It’s the second race in a row in which BYU has faced a one-point differential, having lost the West Coast Conference Championship to Portland two weeks ago.
“It was nice to be on the right side of a one-point finish,” Eyestone said. “Jared and Tylor had nice performances and Rex showed what he’s capable of. It just shows how talented Rex is that he was running on a sore foot and getting conditioned and still finished third for us.”
Shields, who missed the last two races with illness and minor injury, returned to the team in time to get one last race in before the national championship meet next week. As a junior last year, Shields finished 22nd overall at the national championship race as the Cougars earned a spot on the podium with a 4th place team finish.
Official results from the Mountain Region Championships.
The NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championships will take place Saturday, Nov. 17 at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kent. For more information, visit the official meet page.
Men's cross country heads to Mountain Region Championships
PROVO, Utah -- The No. 7 BYU men’s cross country team looks to defend its regional crown Friday at 1 p.m. MST at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships in Fort Collins, Colo. The Cougars won the Mountain Region Championship last year on their way to a fourth place finish at nationals.
Among the competing schools is No. 2 Colorado, who moved into second place in the rankings after a solid showing at the Pre-Nationals race in October.
“Colorado has shown it’s one of the top teams in the country,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. “This will be a very competitive race since there are some really strong teams in the region.”
The top two teams at this weekend’s race will win automatic bids to the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Kent. on Nov. 17. The third and fourth place teams will have a shot to compete at the national meet depending on the points they’ve accumulated throughout the season.
Since the Cougars have performed well over the course of the season, they have a good shot at qualifying for the NCAA Championships even without a win this weekend. Besides Colorado and BYU, No. 16 New Mexico and No. 18 Northern Arizona University are teams that will likely put up a challenge for the top spot in the region.
BYU could receive a boost this week if senior co-captain Rex Shields is able to race. Shields has missed the past two meets for the Cougars as he’s battled sickness and minor injury.
“Rex has been a little snake bitten this year, and any time you lose an All-American, those are pretty big shoes to fill,” Eyestone said. “But he’s doing better, he’s had some good workouts this last week so we’re hoping he’ll be fine for the race on Friday.”
Eyestone said it’s not exactly requisite for Shields to race this week, however, since the Cougars have a strong chance to advance to the NCAA Championships as long as they finish in the top four at the regional meet. The teams who advance to the national meet will only have eight days to prepare for the NCAA Championship race after the regional meet.
“We want to run a controlled and consistent race with our guys without doing too much damage,” Eyestone said. “That’s the biggest factor for us - figuring out how hard we can run and still recover. We’re going to try and run a smart race that will give us some confidence going into nationals.”
Results for the meet will be posted at the cross country home page as soon as they are available.