BYU runner wins award as team prepares for nationals

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Senior team captain for the BYU men’s cross country team added WCC Runner of the Month status to his and the team’s impressive season resume as they prepare for regionals and nationals.

Aaron Fletcher sets the pace in the BYU Autumn Classic. Fletcher was named WCC Runner of the Month for October. (Travis Mortenson)
Aaron Fletcher sets the pace in the BYU Autumn Classic. Fletcher was named WCC Runner of the Month for October. (Travis Mortenson)

BYU dominated the WCC Championships held in Spokane last Saturday. It had seven in the top eight and won by 49 points and had a near-perfect team score with just 17 points. Leading the way for the Cougars was senior captain Aaron Fletcher who came across the finish line at 24:40.1 — a full four seconds before the next closest runner. Fletcher was named WCC Runner of the Month and was also named WCC Athlete of the Year for his dominating performance.

“Aaron is one of our team captains. Certainly he has exhibited great leadership this season through, obviously, his running — he’s always been our one, two guys throughout most of the season, so that’s very important, “BYU men’s cross country head coach Ed Eyestone said. “And then (also) making sure that the team has their sights set forward and ultimately hoping to reach our full potential.”

The Cougars still continue to climb in the polls. BYU is now ranked No. 3 nationally — it’s highest ranking since 2012 when it was also ranked No. 3.

The team has finished third or better in all of its meets this season and it has faced some pretty stiff competition.

“Honestly, (the season) has gone about as well as it could have. We’ve really been able to put together a really solid group,” Fletcher said. “I think good coaching and just good long-term mentality approach has led to that. It’s been awesome.”

The Cougars have turned their sights now to focus on the regional meet on Nov. 13 and then the national meet to be held on Nov. 21.

No. 1 Colorado will be at the regional meet and the Cougars must take at least second in the meet to automatically qualify for the national meet. The Cougars are looking at the regional meet more as a means to an end as Eyestone said.

“You’re looking at getting through regionals as easily as possible. I like to look at the regional meet almost like a preliminary heat in a track and field event,” Eyestone said. “You don’t necessarily need to win the heat, you just need to make sure that you advance.”

The Cougars will still be likely candidates to go to nationals through an at-large bid even if they don’t finish second in the regional meet.  They look forward to these next two races and feel their training has prepared them well to go full strength into nationals.

“I think we’re really ready. We’re well prepared, we’re going to taper down and be ready to really roll,” Fletcher said.

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