By CHRISTIAN MARTIN
Universe Sports Writer
A season that might have been labeled as rebuilding, has thus far turned out to be quite successful for the men’s cross country team.
There were many gaps to be filled from the runners that had left the team for graduation but new talent has more than filled the void.
Brandon Wilding has stepped up for the Cougars as he has been the top finisher on the team in each of the five races that BYU has competed in. Wilding doesn’t except the credit for the teams success though.
“It’s not an individual effort as many people think,” Wilding said. “In the middle of the race, you help push each other. We’ve got a lot of talent and depth. “This talent includes MacArthur Lane, Fikre Wondafrash, Sam St.Clair, Matt Poulsen, Marc Lawson, and Jeff Wilson.
BYU got off to a quick start winning their first meet at Fresno. At the Stanford Invitational, the men finished third out of 16 teams. The next week finished sixth at the Mountain West Classic in Montana.
Before hosting its only home meet of the year, the team took a few weeks off to rest after three consecutive meets. The rest seemed to help the Cougars as they won the BYU Autumn Classic defeating Weber State which was ranked eighth at the time.
On Nov. 1, the Cougars brought home the WAC trophy after finishing first once again on the Fresno course. Wilding, Lawson and Wondafrash all earned a spot on the All-WAC Team with their performances.
“The WAC Championship was a good victory for us,” said head coach Sherald James. “A lot of people might not realize, but since we’ve changed to this new conference, we’re competing against 16 teams.”
With all the success that the Cougars have enjoyed, it might be hard to believe that the now 20th ranked team in the nation wasn’t even ranked in the polls. One of the reasons the polls neglected BYU might have had to do with the fact that a top runner on the team decided not to return this year. Another might be because going into the season, the majority of the team was not particularly made up of long distance runners.
“Technically, we only have a couple runners that are 8K and 10K runners,” James said. “Everyone of the individuals has had a couple meets that they have run outstanding in though and I’m very proud of the young men and the way they represent the University.”
The men’s team will continue their season this Saturday as it will compete at the District VII Championships in Ogden.