Cougars punch ticket to nationals
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – No. 3 BYU men’s cross country has punched its ticket to compete at the NCAA Championships for the 17th consecutive year after finishing third at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships Friday.
The Cougars now have eight days to prepare and rest before next Saturday’s race in Louisville, Kentucky, where a national championship will be on the line. BYU coach Ed Eyestone thought his team executed their game plan very well on the course today.
“I was happy with it,” he said. “They did exactly what they had to do. Now it’s all about recovering and getting ready for the national meet. The regional is nothing more than a qualifying race for the NCAAs, and we did just that.”
West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Dallin Farnsworth paced the Cougars in New Mexico, finishing ninth overall. Aaron Fletcher (16th), Connor McMillan (17th), Dylan Shawhan (25th) and Mitchell Briggs (31st) all figured into BYU’s third place score of 98 points. The Cougars finished behind two time defending national champion Colorado (67 points) and UTEP (77 points). Clayton Young also competed for the Cougars, finishing 68th overall. Dallin Taylor was forced to withdraw from the competition after suffering an injury on the course during the race.
Farnsworth, Fletcher, McMillan and Shawhan were each named to the 2015 All-Mountain Region Team at the conclusion of the meet by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Eyestone once again applauded his team’s overall strength when Taylor went down early on in the contest.
“We avoided disaster today because of our team depth. Dallin (Taylor) got shoved early in the race and ended up badly bruising his heel, so I had to pull him from the race. We still had six runners and I was proud of the way they responded.”
A runner from another school pushed Taylor at about the one-mile mark while going around a rocky turn. He suffered a bruised heel when he stepped on a sharp rock in an attempt to catch his balance. Taylor did not finish the race. The Cougars are unsure at this time if he will be healthy enough to compete next week.
BYU finished in the top three despite holding out one of their top runners, Nicolas Montanez, for some extra rest. Jonathan Harper also sat out Friday. Eyestone is looking forward to having the second overall finisher at the WCC Championships back in uniform next week.
“The main emphasis is we accomplished what we wanted to do today,” he said. “We moved on, and we did it without Nico (Montanez) who we’re going to put in for nationals. He’ll be a big help to our team.”
The Cougars will conclude the 2015 cross country season at the NCAA Championships next Saturday, Nov. 21 in Louisville, Kentucky. The men’s 10k race will begin at 1 p.m. EDT. Broadcast information will be updated on the BYU men’s cross country schedule page as it becomes available.
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