Blake Dorton | Posted: 30 Oct 2015 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

BYU looks to capture third WCC title in five years

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PROVO, Utah – BYU men’s cross country prepares to head to Spokane, Wash. as the favorite to win the West Coast Conference Championships on Saturday. The Cougars are riding the momentum after a head-turning, second-place finish at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational – one that vaulted them to No. 4 in America.

At the start of each season, BYU coach Ed Eyestone pays particular attention to two events. The WCC Championships are one of them.

“As you look at your year, the two big meets you really want to do well in are the conference meet and the national meet,” Eyestone said. “This is the second-biggest meet of the year.”

BYU will look to win its third conference crown in five seasons since becoming a member of the WCC. With perennial power Portland in the middle of a relative down year, the Cougars will toe the line on Halloween as the odds-on pick to accomplish their goal of winning a conference title. However, Eyestone is not taking anything for granted.

“Since we joined the WCC, we’ve split back and forth with Portland every year,” he said. “We should win it this time, and I think we’re in a good place to do that. However, one thing we’ve learned is during those years where one team is favored, it sometimes ends up being very close. Last year is a great example. Portland had a very good team – they ended up in the top four at the NCAA’s – but they only beat us by a couple of points.”

BYU does have a number of factors playing to its advantage going into the 8,000-meter clash. At the forefront of Eyestone’s mind is his team’s health.

“Everyone is feeling pretty good,” Eyestone said. “As well as we ran in Wisconsin, we had some guys who were sick or injured. Right now, the guys are feeling healthy, so I think we can be just as good if not better this week. I think it can be a good meet for us as long as things stay that way.”

BYU’s chances of winning Saturday with an able-bodied squad will be boosted even more because of what happened earlier this season. The Cougars have already won on the Plantes Ferry Park course, taking the WCC Preview in September. Gonzaga was the only other conference school on the course that day, taking second.

Team depth has been a pillar of strength for the Cougars all season. In addition to winning a team title, BYU’s top two, Dallin Farnsworth and Aaron Fletcher, have a chance to cement themselves as leading candidates for the WCC Cross Country Athlete of the Year award. Strength up and down the lineup is a calming reassurance for the whole team.

“We have a strong top three that I think can compete for a win,” Eyestone said. “(Jonathan) Harper had a really strong week of practice. He’s closed some of the gap as the No. 4 man. After that, I think any one of our guys can vie for spots five through nine. It’s nice to know we have that kind of depth. It helps me sleep a little better at night.”

BYU will have its top nine runners in uniform tomorrow. Farnsworth and Fletcher will be flanked out front by Nos. 3 and 4, Connor McMillan and Jonathan Harper. Mitchell Briggs, Dylan Shawhan, Clayton Young, Dallin Taylor and Nicolas Montanez round out the nine that will travel to Washington.

“I think we’re well prepared,” Eyestone said. “The guys are excited about it. We’ll go in fully loaded, not taking anything for granted, and try to win the thing back. Portland got us last year; we’re going to get them back this year.”

The men’s 8k race will begin at 10 a.m. PST.

For links to live results and video, visit the BYU men’s cross country schedule page.

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