Tylor Thatcher was en route to his second consecutive individual victory until he got passed by a runner from Adams State with 200 meters to go.
Thatcher proved the age-old adage true: It’s not over till it’s over.
“I decided to try and pass him and got to him with about 20 meters left,” Thatcher said. “I ended up winning by no more than a half step.”
That final-stretch effort in the 8K race helped earn the No. 4 BYU men’s cross country team a place on the top of the podium at the Griak Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota on Sept. 28. It marked the team’s third consecutive win in as many races this year.
“We got a really nice effort by Thatcher for the win,” said head coach Ed Eyestone. “He was leading or on the shoulder of the leader the whole way and had three guys right there with him at the end of the race. He just kicked it into another gear and leaned at the end to win it.”
Thatcher’s first-place finish (24:26) was well backed by the rest of the team, which scored 62 points. The next BYU runner to finish was Jason Witt, who placed seventh with a time of 24:34. Following him were teammates Aaron Fletcher (24:46) in 15th place and Thomas Gruenewald (24:47) in 17th place. Jonathan Nelson, the last scoring runner for the Cougars, finished 22nd with a time of 24:51. Steve Flint placed 23rd, and Spencer Gardner placed 29th.
““I thought it was an excellent team effort,” Eyestone said. “We had a gap of only about 25 seconds between our first and fifth man.”
The field consisted of 21 other schools, including Arizona State and North Carolina State, both nationally ranked teams in the top-30, and the top-ranked Division II program of Adams State.
Second-place finisher Colorado State ended the day with 74 points, the only team close to BYU on the scoreboard. No. 29 Arizona State finished third with 139 points, and Adams State took fourth with 147 points.
The Cougars’ next stop is the 34-team Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 19. They did not compete in this 8K race last fall and will look to improve on their second-place finish back in 2011. They will then battle in the West Coast Conference Championships on Nov. 2.