Terre Haute, Ind. • BYU runners and coaches weren't necessarily disappointed with their effort at the NCAA Championships on Saturday.
But the Cougars weren't ecstatic, either, despite finding their way onto the podium with a fourth-place team finish.
"We were ranked eighth coming in, so I guess you have to be happy," BYU coach Ed Eyestone said. "Certainly a goal of being on the podium was a big one for us, so, yes, we're happy in that regard."
BYU led the team standings after the first 3,000 meters, but slowly slipped in the standings from that point. Colorado won the team title with 149 points, while Northern Arizona was second with 169, Oklahoma State was third with 230 and BYU took fourth with 267.
"A little bit of disappointment because I feel like nobody had a real spectacular day," Eyestone said. "Which is what you get in conditions like this. I'm sure all of the teams can say the same thing. I think as a team we had a solid day, just not a great day."
Runners were greeted with high winds and temperatures in the low 30s. Recent rains left the LaVern Gibson Championship Course extremely muddy in some portions, and the start line was moved up 110 meters due to poor conditions, shortening the course and eliminating any chance of a meet record being set.
"The biggest obstacle was just finding a groove," said BYU's Tylor Thatcher, who earned All-American honors by finishing 21st in 30:29. "You would have a patch of 100 meters of dry ground, and then you say, 'OK, I can go this pace,' but then you hit a big patch of mud and lose all of your momentum. You would speed up, then slow down, If you weren't mentally tough it was hard for you."
BYU's top runners heading into the meet Jared Ward and Jason Witt didn't have their best outings. Ward lost a few spots in the final 1,000 meters after tightening up, but still earned All-American honors with his 36th-place finish in 30:43.
Witt suffered from a side cramp and finished 87th in 31:13.
"Considering our top-2 guys didn't do as well as we hoped, fourth is amazing," Thatcher said.
Ward was running just his second meet of the season, recently gaining his eligibility back after a long battle with the NCAA over his participation in a fun run.
"He was really fit, but I think he would have benefitted from more cross country training," Eyestone said. "I'm happy he could cap his senior season with another podium season."
Jonathan Nelson (68th, 31:02) and Spencer Gardner (118th, 31:26) also scored for BYU. Southern Utah's Ryan Barrus was 166th in 31:55.
Oregon freshman Edward Cheserek won the individual championship in 29:41, defeating defending champion Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech by 18 seconds.
In the women's 6,000-meter race, Utah's Rebekah Winterton finished 89th in 21:15. Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino won the meet in 20 minutes flat, while Providence took the team championship.
Top 5 teams
1. Colorado 148, Northern Arizona 167, Oklahoma State 228, BYU 264, Oregon 272.
Top 5 individuals
1. Edward Cheserek, Oregon, 29:41. 2. Kennedy Kithuka, Texas Tech, 29:59.1 3. Maksim Korolev, Harvard, 29:59.5. 4. Futsum Zienasellassie, 30:05. 5. Jim Rosa, Stanford, 30:08
21. Tylor Thatcher, 30:29.
36. Jared Ward, 30:43.
68. Jonathan Nelson, 31:02
87. Jason Witt, 31:13
118. Spencer Gardner 31:55
120. Thomas Gruenewald, 31:27
137. Steve Flint, 31:39
166. Ryan Barrus, 31:55
Top 5 teams
1. Providence 142, Arizona 197, Butler 200, Michigan 215, Georgetown.
Also • 28. BYU 687
Top 5 individuals
1. Abbey D'Agostino, Dartmouth, 20:00. 2. Emma Bates, Boise State, 20:03. 3. Kate Avery, Iona, 20:05. 4. Aisling Cuffe, Stanford, 20:09. 5. Emily Lipari, 20:10.
86. Andrea Harrison, 21:14
151. Sarah Yingling, 21:40
166. Natalie Shields, 21:46
220. Makenna Smith, 22:16
227. Lindsey Nielson, 22:23
235. Nicole Nielsen, 22:30
244. Rachel Stewart, 22:52
89. Rebekah Winterton, 21:15
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