This race to me was all about having the right mindset and using it as springboard into outdoors. I came into the meet ranked #4 in the NCAA and my goal was to compete to win.
As the gun fired I wanted to get out in a good position knowing how critical position is on a 200m track. I had very little expectations as far as the pace of the race was concerned, I was okay with either a fast or slow race. But it became apparent very fast that it was gonna be SLOW. After the first 200m was honest everybody slammed on the breaks and we came to a pedestrian jog! I didn’t see the point in being stuck in the middle of a jog fest, so I made my way up to the lead.
When I got to the front I remained relaxed and didn’t want to hang myself out to dry by hammering the pace. I knew my best chance was to remain within myself until someone else gained the courage to make a move. I didn’t know at the time but nobody was gaining any courage until a mile to go. So we came through 2 miles slower than 10k pace and geared up for what would surely be an all out last mile.
Grant Fischer of Colorado State was the first to move, with a Mile to go he started running 32 second laps and it did very little to string things out as everyone was able to respond and I got pushed back to 4th or 5th. I was on the inside and people were coming around me trying to get their best view of the front and I could feel as if I was losing control of my own fate. After several fast laps of shuffling around the middle of the pack, I decided to make a move to get back up front. As I went to the outside my legs got tangled with the guys around me and I felt a push on my back.. I began to go down and went to catch myself and did, but in the process of saving myself from falling on my face I sprained my ankle. With 500m to go I had a jolt of pain and my momentum was slowed, I had no time to think... I just acted and fought my way back up.. I was in 9th and we had 400m to go. I attempted to swing wide on the back stretch but was denied as we headed into the turn by other athletes attempting the same thing. I passed one athlete and was in 8th with 200m to go. As the bell rang I still had much left from the pedestrian pace, but so did my competitors and I couldn’t pass with the momentum I had hoped for. It wasn’t till the final 50m where I swung wide and was able to move up two more places to claim 6th place!
This was not my dream race, I couldn’t walk.. I was pulled right into drug testing, but I had left it all out there. I never stopped believing, I never stopped competing and I felt I had done the most with the circumstances. Sometimes the race result is a little out of your control, you can choose to learn and grow, or take a defeat out of not reaching your place goal. I choose to look at this as a race where I competed, got great experience and grew as an athlete. I’m so excited for more outdoors, and I’m really excited for 400m tracks...
The goal going into this race was to compete well and qualify for NCAAs which required a 7:53.xx. My personal best was 7:55 and I felt that I was certainly ready to improve on that. It was a solid field with guys all thinking the same thing as myself, we had my teammate Clayson Shumway set to rabbit us through the first portion of the race in about 63 second 400s.
As the gun fired I had inside position and just about everyone came in on top of me and shot me out towards the back quarter of the field. I quickly fought to get closer to the intended pace behind the rabbit and to make matters worse we were about 2 seconds slow through 800m. This was no time to panic though, plenty of time to make it up and get under the required mark.
It was a really physical race throughout and the first mile felt like a battle for position, as Clayson stepped off the track their was a moment of hesitation up front as I was in about 3rd or 4th and this moment was a critical error. The runner in first slowed and I had troubles getting around him until about 300m later, this cost us a second or two on the race and at that moment I knew we would have to close like crazy in order to qualify for nationals.
I came through 1600m in 4:16 which was about 3-4 seconds slower than I needed to be, I was comfortable and knew I could take some of that time off in the next 1400m. The pace quickened but the field was so antsy that it made it really hard to move up. I found myself waiting for a good opportunity to move and as the time and laps progressed my window of opportunity was closing.
With about 800m to go I was in 3rd or 4th and the pace was accelerated, it was going to take something incredible to qualify, with about 600m to go 2 athletes moved around and began to push the pace, I decided to ride this wave and matched. We were really cooking now, I felt really good and was making moves as the final laps progressed. A Stanford Athlete (Fahy) made a big move with 400m to go that seemed to be decisive and towards the finish. I pushed to latch on, but one Colorado Athlete (Forsyth) stood between us. I passed Forsyth on the back stretch on the inside and began to close rapidly on Fahy’s heels. As we came around the final turn I swung wide and pumped my arms and squeezed every last ounce of power out of my oxygen deprived legs. I was able to pass Fahy while looking at the clock I saw the national qualifying time pass just before I crossed. I ended up missing the mark by just under a second. I closed the last 600m in 1:28, but needed somewhere around 1:26-27. 7:54.2 the clock read and I was happy to run a personal best and win the race, unless 3 athletes scratch in front of me I will only be running the 5000m @ NCAAs this year.
Next stop College Station.
Since the end of cross country this was a race I had circled on the calendar. Nothing beats an opportunity to compete with the best and run really fast. Leading up to the race I felt great, training so far this year has been seamless, I’ve felt really consistent and strong. But, what I felt best about going into this race wasn’t my training, it wasn’t the competition, it was my mentality and state of mind. So often in this sport it’s easy to get lost in comparing yourself to your competitors and since cross it’s been a real focus of mine to just do me. Friday night was where I felt I had an opportunity to take the new attitude and just run my best. I’m not saying I wasn’t concerned with places, I’m not saying I didn’t want to beat people, I’m a competitor and when the gun goes off I compete. What I did though was focus on what I can control and just give it everything.
As the gun fired I followed Justyn knowing that he was probably going to put himself in a situation to win. We found ourselves mid-pack once things settled and we were on the train. The pace felt really comfortable as we came through the first few 400m splits. Most people don’t like hearing splits, I honestly hear every... single... one... probably to a fault. In this case hearing the splits didn’t really mean much I was really relaxed and clipping along. We came through the 2 mile a little bit off the desired 8:48, I was in about 6th-8th place and came through in 8:53. It was worth noting that the Iowa state coach was screaming that we needed to pick up the pace because the current pace wasn’t fast enough to qualify for NCAAs. I remained really calm knowing that the last mile was going to be hot and we could shave off plenty of time, I still felt really relaxed. As we came to about 1200m to go the pace began to really quicken. I felt as if there was a group of a few runners breaking away and gaining momentum. As one 300m lap clicked off after another as we approached 600 to go we were undoubtedly reaching an honest clip. I felt as if I was simply being pulled and just enjoying the ride, time was moving really fast and I felt as if I was on autopilot until the bell. As the bell sounded I was amongst 7 athletes that were separated by no more than a half second.
At this point Justyn catapulted to the front and I found myself trapped in the tail end of a group three a breast. This was my one tactical error of the race. As the initial uptick in pace happened I assumed we would thin out and I would make my way to the front but the group hung tough and it wasn’t till the final 60 meter straight that I was able to swing wide and pass some of the athletes in front of me. I passed one group of 3 runners and was in lane 3 with the finish line quickly approaching and ran out of real estate before I could get another. I wasn’t too concerned with my single error, I immediately looked up at the Jumbotron where they were displaying finishing times.
There was a delay as Justyn’s time showed, then Dillon, then Vincent, it was this moment that my time appeared and I had a jolt of joy! I had broken the BYU indoor school record for 5k by 0.96 seconds! I was proud of the effort and overcome with a feeling of accomplishment.
With my ticket to NCAAs booked I look forward to running a fast 3k in Seattle next week and attempting to get my second race for NCAAs clinched. It will take a miraculous effort to beat coach Eyestone’s school record of 7:47 in the event but I’m going to squeeze every second out of my body.
This was the first time in my collegiate career that I was going to be doing two events in the same meet and I was excited for the challenge and to see how my body responded. This might sound very simple to High School athletes that run 3 or 4 races in every invitational, but the intensity of collegiate racing usually requires you put all your eggs in one basket.
First up was the Distance Medley Relay. The DMR is one of the things that makes indoor season so fun for middle distance runners as they have the option of running with a baton in hand with and for their teammates, something undeniably special. This was the first time in my collegiate career that I was asked to be a member of our DMR team, and I was set to run the anchoring 1600m leg. Running the DMR was a last minute decision for our team as Oregon had contacted our coach to ask if we were interested in pursuing a qualifying mark. We felt it was a great opportunity to see where we are at and get some race experience on a 200m banked track.
Race day came about and my team and I were excited to compete and attempt to run 9:30ish which is what it takes to qualify for indoor nationals in most recent years. Excited to open the season and compete at New York’s historic Armory for the first time ever. The first leg of the DMR is a 1200m and we had Marcus Dickson running and as the gun fired he found himself somewhere in the top 3-4 throughout and was able to maintain that as he handed to our 400m leg and split 2:57. Our 400m leg (Max Scheible) ran an impressive 47.xx to move us into 2nd place. At this point Oregon had taken a substantial 3 or 4 second lead, but Abraham Alvarrado, our 800m leg, got the baton and accelerated like a bat out of Hell…it was obvious he was going to close the gap on Oregon. In the final 200m he found another gear and was catching Oregon quickly. As he rounded the final turn he passed Oregon to split 1:47.xx and handed me the baton in first.
I took off with the race plan coach Eyestone and I had discussed... “Run as even split of a race as possible and then kick my ass off”. The first 400 was perfect 60.xx and Prakel of Oregon (3:57 miler) was still sitting on my heels until 450m where his coach Andy Powell told him he had to pick up the pace. I tried to stay on his. Shoulder but as we approached 600-700m I found that his clip was a bit past my comfort zone and he began to pull away. The next few laps were mentally tough; I kept running 60.5-61 splits and I was 2-3 seconds ahead of 3rd and 2-3 seconds behind 1st. Coming through 1200m in 3:03.xx I dug deep to attempt to change gears for my team and just didn’t have anything all that special on this night ended up closing in 60 flat and running 4:03.59 and anchoring the team to 2nd and a 9:36.10.
The DMR was okay, I ran the planned race tactic but was just a little short of the bar I had set. It was time to shift my focus to the 3k that was in about 18 hours. I got a good dinner and a good nights rest to prepare for another hard effort. The 3k has been a race I have had a difficult time figuring out so far in my collegiate career and I was looking to shake that and really figure it out. To me, the 3k feels a lot like the mile, you red line most of the race and that’s something that I decided I had to embrace even if it was against my preferred chill and kill race tactics.
As I toed the line, I felt nervous and excited for my 2nd race of the weekend, I was one of 5 collegians in the field of 16 elite distance runners. As the gun fired I was near the back of the pain train and was splitting 32 low to 31 high throughout the first 1600m and came through in about 4:15 and was in maybe 8th or 9th. A little slower than needed for NCAA qualification mark so over the next 400m I started making moves to better my chances of running 7:53.xx (the needed mark for NCAAs). I made two large moves in the latter stages of the race and the first was with 1k to go as I moved up to about 6th place and found myself feeling pretty good with this change of pace. The leaders had a couple meters of a gap on me and small pack of runners and with 600m to go I made a big surge to reel them in and separated from the group I was with and was alone in 4th. My head was down as I grit my teeth for the hope of closing really strong (needed to run 1:30.0 last 600m to qualify). I was still alone with 250 to go I looked at the clock and needed to run 27 seconds for the last 200m to hit 7:53.xx. I lowered my head once again to dig as deep as I could and with about 150m to go had realized I didn’t have another gear. I began to tighten up and was out-kicked by 2 athletes in the last 25m... I ran 7:55.10.
I was really happy with my efforts and proud of the way I competed regardless of result. The result was still a 3 second PR and a great way to kick off my indoor season. A year ago, this same weekend, I ran 7:58 on fresh legs on an oversized track. This attempt was the day after a hard 1600m and on a 200m banked track. I’m going forward with the same big hairy goals as I had prior to this race, next stop Iowa.
As I woke up for the race I did my usual routine, showered ate some breakfast, got ready. I was nervous, I was excited, I had a lot of emotions running through my mind. Nerves are a part of being an athlete, I was not too worried about being nervous. I trusted my preparation and had been anxiously awaiting this race for several months. All the early summer morning miles, all the hard long runs, all the grinding workouts and races throughout the season. I felt confident and ready to roll.
As the gun went off I got out hard, I wanted to assert myself out front at the beginning. This was nothing new to me, I had done the very same thing multiple times this season. It was a hard start, I wasn’t too far from the individuals I had wanted to finish around. I tried to relax and settle in after the first kilometer or so and found it nearly impossible. The race was fast the conditions were tough, but I was still hopeful that I could find my rhythm and grind it out.
As we approached the 5k split I found myself somewhere around 30-35th place. Not nearly where I wanted to finish and not feeling like I could move any faster and still finish the race. But still remained hopeful because there was plenty of race to run and maybe others were suffering just as I was. The team needed me, I was running for more than simply myself, I had no energy to waste sulking in the unideal situation I found myself in. I kept fighting trying to fend off my competitors and maintain pace.
My body was struggling, I was beginning to feel a side stitch as we approached 3k to go, I kept going and thinking to myself that if I could just make it to the downhill portion in the last kilometer maybe I could find another gear. Runners continued to pass me one by one, I could hear spectators and coaches hollering places too their athletes, “this is 40, how bad do you want it?” We had about 3 minutes to go in the race and I was in the worst pain of my life in a race and had fallen all the way back to about 45th. I said a prayer in my head hoping to find the strength to finish with one more gear for my team.
As we made the turn towards the finish at the bottom end of the course there was about 800m to go. I started pumping my arms and driving my knees like never before. To my own disbelief I had found new life on the course, my prayers had been answered. I was passing through bodies that were in the same struggle as I and I kept my eyes forward to focus on the finish and fighting for every point. I crossed the line with nothing. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I looked up to my teammates Connor and Casey, I told them that I was sorry for not being there for them throughout the race.
I was for a moment so disappointed in myself. I felt sorry for myself, wondering why my preparations were not sufficient. It took seeing my teammates around me in pain and discomfort to realize that I had done all I could on that day, we all did. We wanted it, we fought for it, and we had not given up on one another. I felt bad for a minute but those feelings soon were overtaken by a gratitude. The sport gives and it takes. I have been given much, and had much to be grateful for, nobody runs perfect every time they compete. But I found some pride in knowing I was a fighter. So many athletes I passed in the final kilometer were going through a similar situation to me. They were hurting they were probably watching their goals being taken out of reach. It’s so easy to be grateful and love the sport while it gives you so much. But often times the most valuable lessons in life come when things don’t quite go according to plan. I know for a fact that I was lifted by those who supported me in the final stretch of the race. The ones who were praying for my success as well as cheering for it were the reason I was able to muster the strength to maintain an All-American finish.
I will not let this minor setback stop me from dreaming big and believing in myself. I know that although it’s hard now, I will be better off having experienced this. I had so much fun this cross country season and was so grateful for those that believed in me, don’t give up me now! The comeback is going to be a great one, thanks for helping. I love this sport!
Photos By BYU Photo and Ben Crawford
NCAA Regionals in Cross Country is the ultimate semi-final. The only goal is to advance to the big dance. BYU is a team that is usually pretty solid and safe when it comes to getting through. Under coach Eyestone, the men have never missed the NCAA championships. This year was no different. We were resting 3 of our top 7 guys and had plans to qualify by running as easy as possible.
The race started and I sifted my way through the field and got out well enough to avoid trouble. The first 400m was downhill so it was moving pretty well. Once I settled in, I wanted to get out of traffic, so I put myself up front and relaxed. Like most years the pace got quite pedestrian and everyone was tightly packed as we concluded our first figure eight on the 3 lap course. That was when Kosgei of UTEP went out front and pushed the pace, and opened up the race a little bit. I always stayed off the shoulder of the top guys and found myself very comfortable out there.
The race had little action in the 2nd lap but I noticed the pack was thinning and I could only feel the presence of about 10 or so guys. The race was going according to plan, things weren’t slow anymore but I was running within myself and was confident I wasn’t going to over-do myself going into the big dance. The guys surrounding me probably felt the same way, very controlled, and the pace started heating up at the beginning of the 3rd lap. And the course was laid out so that the first half of the figure eight was slightly uphill and the last half is down. The uphill portion was a bit of a grind, we were 7k in and the group had thinned to 7 guys, spectators were loud on the course as the individual race featured the home crowd favorite Utah State Athlete Dillon Maggard. As we hit the downhill there was about 2k to go and we were strung out single file on the course and I found myself in 7th. I waited patiently to make a move, nobody had broken away and there was still enough real estate for me to relax as much as I could at this pace.
As we hit the final 600m, I moved up 2 or 3 places, but at this time Joe Klecker of Colorado put in a strong push towards the finish. It was at this moment that I needed to either commit to challenging Klecker or settle for 2nd. Seeing the strength of Klecker’s move, I had decided I would just run to maximize place as I still had 2 or 3 guys running in front of me, I made a pace and pulled up on second place Tyler Day on the final straight. I stayed relaxed and as smooth as I could and was able to pull away from Day and secure a 2nd place finish. My teammate Connor McMillan came 4th just after me and Day. After this race it gave me confidence that all my training has come to a close and I believe I can run with anyone. My legs felt a little extra pop in each step as my mileage has been lowered from the regular season and I know my team and I are ready to run to win in Louisville.
This was about making a statement, this team is hungry. We are focused on the prize, but we are enjoying every step of this journey to NCAAs. This was probably the most fun race I’ve ever ran. Nothing empowers me more than seeing your brothers around you grinding stride for stride.
The plan was simple, NCAA simulation. We are assuming NCAAs is going to be FAST this year, and we want to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The first Kilometer was fast as a result, 2:50 to be exact. At this point, we didn’t want to completely settle in. We knew that the pilots were coming and we had to make them as uncomfortable as possible to do what we wanted to...make a statement. Our next kilometer featured a steady pace of about 3:00.
The course had four 2k laps and it was for the most part, flat and fast. I attempted to help my team keep a hot pace with a few surges in the first lap and the beginning of the second. It was clear we had control of the race. I found myself bouncing all around the top 8 in lap 2-3, but this pack was really compact.
By the end of the 3rd lap, the cougars had 8 of the top 11, but 2 pilots and a USF athlete remained with the hot pace. McMillan, at this point, broke the race open with a surge that immediately strung things out. One after another, the pack chasing thinned. We still had 5 Cougars in the top 6 as Jeff Thies of Portland hung tough with the pace change. Casey, Clayton, Danny, and I made a big move with 800 to go in an attempt to reel in McMillan and in the process lost Thies.
Once I realized it was all Cougars, I spoke up and told the boys we had the perfect score and to cruise in to avoid any unnecessary damage leading into Regionals and Nationals. This was a huge step in the right direction for us. McMillan ran so tough and made the race, Casey was the most aggressive I’ve seen the young stud, and Danny Carney was able to stick with our pack and beat out the really tough Portland athletes. As we crossed, we flashed the BYU logos on our chest in celebration of a great start to an amazing post-season.
I believe we are continuing to get better, more confident, and trusting each other. I’m excited for what’s to come and love each and every one of my teammates. This week also caps off the end of a long string of high mileage for me, McMillan, and Young. We have all averaged 90-95 miles a week through the entirety of the season. Taper time!
Let me start by telling how my weekend began. The bus was set to leave for 6:00 to the airport, me and a couple of the guys wanted to get a couple miles in so we went for an easy thirty minutes at around 5:00. After showering and getting ready I was running late for the bus so left the locker room in a hurry forgetting my phone in my locker.
Bad start to the trip, seeing as I would be without my phone from Thursday morning until Saturday night. No biggie, shake it off and move on. I was excited to go race in Louisville and wasn’t going to let leaving my phone in Provo damper the mood.
Upon our arrival in Chicago, where we had a layover to Louisville, I wanted to grab a bite to eat and so I asked a few teammates to come grab a bite with me, but nobody was interested in eating. So I wandered off to find something. Eventually just around the corner from our gate I found a food court where I sat down to eat some Chicago style pizza. After eating I went back to my gate to find that my watch I was using was in Mountain time, and I had mistimed the flight by an hour. My team was headed to Louisville and I was stuck in Chicago without my phone and without my team. I did make it to Louisville thankfully. It was time to shake off the misfortune and prepare for my race.
I woke up feeling excited for the race to come, I was feeling a little nauseated and as I headed over to the course I knew I had to get my head right. I plugged in some tunes put my feet up and relaxed until it was time to warm-up.
Just like my weekend, the race got off to an odd, and unfortunate start. The starter raised his hands with the flag and gun in hand and dropped them as if to start the race so we lunged off of the line. The gun failed to fire so we started heading back to the start line only to hear the gun fire while resetting. This put me in a bit of a panic, as the teammates that were starting behind me had flown around me and I had to scramble quickly to position.
After a couple hundred meters I found myself where I wanted to be and began to settle in a little bit. My teammates were around me and we seemed to be in a good spot. The pace was honest as we came through the mile in 4:33 and it looked as if this race was going to be a time trial. A few athletes made a break from the field around 2k and I was in the mix of the chase pack.
We were still going quite fast as we came through 3k somewhere around 8:40, but still 2 athletes from Campbell had a gap on the field. My teammates were surrounding me, but so were many other athletes. It was clear our intentions were to reel in those athletes who had broken away. The hills of the course made the middle portion a bit of a grind as we came through 5k in around 14:40.
At this point the chase pack was making moves and people were dropping like flies. I stayed somewhere in the middle (around 6th-8th) with my teammate Connor McMillan as we siphoned through the fallen. I was still in control but I felt like I needed to be patient, one of the original breakaway athletes from Campbell had broken form as the chase swallowed him up and spat him out the back. As we approached the last kilometer it was mostly downhill towards the finish and I turned to Connor and signaled it was time to roll.
Now the race had gotten much more intense. Those two breakaway athletes had both been caught, one was already gone, the other battled for the lead as I sat in 6th behind the group still separated by about 10 meters. Coach Eyestone, Ryan Waite, and Isaac Wood cheered ferociously for Connor and I to catch the top 5 so I started to wind up for one last move (about 350m to go). I went to the arms and bursted, all I could think was to maintain sprinting form and push to the line. I passed the 5 competitors that were in front of me with tons of momentum; I knew I could win but still had ground to cover. I thought, go to the arms and push and as I neared the line I took one last glance over the shoulder before celebrating a big day for BYU by pointing and flashing the logo on my chest.
The Cougars are coming.
The Dellinger Invite hosted by Oregon was the first real test of the season for the men of BYU. A meet that featured some elite competition like Stanford, Oregon, Portland although sitting some athletes and full teams of Washington and Gonzaga.
We were training through this first big meet of the season but also saw it as an important opportunity to test ourselves against a good field. Part of the NCAA Cross Country season is about making it to the championship races with your team feeling ready, healthy, and confident. This was a chance to gain confidence and prepare for the big dance.
The race started off in the pouring rain of Oregon, I was calm and collected but excited to compete. Our plan was to get out in the first mile and make it honest and then settle into a pack up front. As the gun sounded I got out and after about 600 meters or so I got into the lead with Clayton and Connor. We immediately got to work on the plan and pressed the pace to what was solid enough for our guys to get up there and get together. After the mile there was probably 10 BYU guys in the top 20.
At this point we settled for a mile or so but it wasn't long before people were anxious to push. An athlete from Washington (Moussa) and a Cal Poly athlete both took it upon themselves to come between the BYU royal blue up front. As we approached 5k it was clear that the race had truly begun, and was slowly stringing out.
I found myself anywhere from 5th to 8th from 5-7k as I tried to run within myself and stay in contact. Before a big move to the finish was made, sure enough Colby Gilbert of UW took over and made his move. I matched and slowly moved up in the field but it was strung out and I was in the back of the line with 800m to go. As we approached 600m to go I made my move up into contention, I passed a few guys and was right behind Gilbert, McMillan, and Young.
With Clayton now in the lead I decided if I was going to win I had to go now, Clayton had about 2 seconds on me and there was 400m to go. I passed McMillan and tried to find another gear by in order to catch Clayton, I couldn't reel him in. He had a great day and it's pretty awesome when your teammates can push you like Connor and Clayton pushed me. BYU XC has something special brewing and I'm excited for all that is in store.
Going into the start my mindset was relaxed effort, set the tone, and lead the team. As the gun fired I got out well right off the shoulder of fellow teammate Clayton Young. I could feel the pressure and excitement of the field that included local teams Utah State and Weber State. I wanted to keep things calm so I took the lead and controlled the pace.
We came through the first mile in 4:58 and I felt really relaxed and continued to control the pace. Things settled even more in the second mile, and I started to get what felt like a little too relaxed. We came through 2 miles in 10:02.
The game plan was to break the race open at 2 miles and without hesitation Connor McMillan and Casey Clinger took the pace over and began to turn it over a little bit. At this point in the race I had gotten so settled in that when they increased pace I found myself in the back of the pack and 4 or 5 more of my teammates went around me.
As a spectator it may have looked like I was defeated, but I kept contact and stayed in the race clocking 4:50 in the 3rd mile. I thought about making my move right at the mile to go mark but had second thoughts due to the large pack of BYU Royal Blue surrounding me. At this point it was 7 or 8 BYU guys vs. Utah State stud Dillon Maggard.
I knew Maggard was dang good, and that he had some wheels being an NCAA qualifier in the mile and 1500m. Maggard was also 11th at NCAA cross nationals the year prior. As we came to the 800m to go mark coach Eyestone exclaimed "make sure a cougar wins this thing!" This woke me up just enough to creep up on the shoulder of Maggard, I waited all the way up until the final hard turn and 400m to go.
At this moment there was a very muddy patch on the course, Dillon was on the left shoulder of McMillan and I was on his left. I put my head down and flipped the kick switch. Maggard, McMillan, and Clayton couldn't react fast enough and in a matter of seconds after making my move I knew I had a good chance of coming away with the win.
A well fought, very exciting race to start the season. My teammates and Maggard look poised to have a big year. As I crossed the line at East Bay I took a second to point to the sky and think about my late grandfather who passed just about a month ago. My grandfather was a great role model and pivotal part in my personal development. I knew he was there at that moment, and I know he will be for the remainder of this season.
Back to the Grind, next stop Oregon for the Dellinger Invite!
As I prepared for this race, a lot went through my head…the memories of last year’s 5000m haunted me. This great Historic Hayward Field enticed me. The goals I had set for the 10k motivated me. The hard work I had put in over the last year reassured me. I was ready to go to war with the best 24 runners in the NCAA for 25 laps.
This race was nothing short of a war from my perspective. There was more jostling and fighting for position than any race that I had ever ran prior. I fought to have good position throughout, but couldn't manage to get up where I wanted, so I had to hold my ground in the middle of the pack. The first 2 miles of this race I was pretty uninterested in getting excited, as I could tell it was going to be a tactical affair. So as I ran I listened to the crowd. I could hear my teammates and family on the back stretch and my coach on the opposite side. I could even hear and watch as Hayward Field enjoyed the Pole Vault final. I don't blame them, there was nothing exciting going on in my race.
I continued to relax as much as possible and stay in position throughout. With about 10 laps to go everyone was still together and the field got very excited. I was on the inside and had slid back about 5 spots just from the field going around me. I knew the race was about to unfold and all I could do was stick with the group and stay strong. As the lap counter changed I would simply tell myself, “Surely I can stay with them for on more lap.” I continued to stay with my group and had been in a solid 9th place with 800m to go! We were moving at this point, and I knew my move would have to come soon!!
Coming off the turn on the homestretch with 500m to go, I could hear coach Eyestone hollering words of encouragement, I knew it was time! So, I swung wide and made a move and when I started driving my legs I was moving much faster than I would have expected. I quickly jumped all the way to 4th and was closing quickly on 3rd. At this point, I was going faster than I had ever gone at the end of any race, and with 150m to go, I found myself in 2nd! I tried to close on first and did for a second, but Marc Scott is an absolute animal and held me off to maintain the win! When I crossed the line, I was so emotional. Never had I felt so satisfied with my efforts at the conclusion of a race. The pride in knowing that all my hard work was rewarded overwhelmed me with joy. I will never forget this memorable day in Hayward Field.
I want to thank my friends and family, as well as my amazing girlfriend for making it possible for me to get here. I also am super thankful to my coach, Ed Eyestone, for helping create a recipe for my success, and of course, my teammates for pushing me day in and day out. I am so proud to be a part of something bigger than myself. The glory goes to God!
The NCAA preliminaries can be one of the most stressful meets of the year, 48 of the best athletes in the West come together in every event to compete for 12 spots to advance. This was my second time running at the preliminary meet and last year I squeaked by with the 12th spot in the 5k. This time I was running the 10k and knew I needed to bring my A-game versus the stout competitors all eyeing the 12 coveted spots.
The race had a clean start and I found myself somewhere in the top 5 or 6, I settled in and got ready for the usual sit and kick affair that this championship meet tends to be. Most of the field was on the same page as I, but there were 2 Portland athletes and a Cal-Berkeley athletes that had "other" plans. As those 3 broke away I found myself near the front of the remaining 45 athletes settled into a more relaxed effort.
I sat in second in the chase pack as we ran a 76 second lap somewhere in the first 2-3k and I had decided that I needed to move. This decision to lead the chase pack was instinctive and one I immediately questioned. I grabbed cups of water every lap and dumped them on my head in order to cool off. I slowly reeled in the Portland guys and than the last breakaway from Cal which meant I was leading the field of athletes looking to strike.
At this time there was about 3k to go and there were about 15 athletes all sitting on my heels, again, only 12 would advance. I kept pushing the pace and checking the Jumbotron each lap to see how many remained in the group. Also coach was shouting the number of men in the pack every lap it narrowed to 12 as we approached 3 laps to go.
At this moment I knew Eugene was pretty much a sure thing, but I wasn't done. I had fed off the energy of leading the field and felt pretty good. Jerrell Mock of Colorado State, a guy I raced in high school countless times came on my shoulder to put the pressure on with 800m to go. A slew of guys decided it was time led by Marc Scott I slid back to 5th place and sat on the 4 guys who passed.
As the bell lap rang I realized there was enough in the tank to have some fun, I swung wide on the back stretch and went onto the shoulder of the couple athletes that had just passed me a lap earlier. As we approached 200m to go I put it into another gear and left that group and was chasing Marc. He looked over his shoulder as I came up on him and put in one more move that discouraged any fight I may have had left and I held my second place to the line.
I was so thrilled to have punched my ticket to Eugene. I have had my eyes set on outdoor nationals all winter and spring and look forward to showcasing the hard work that has been put in. As far as goals go, I just want some hardware (top 8) and a really good exciting race!
Payton Jordan is without a doubt one of North Americas finest track meets for middle distance and distance runners. I can remember watching Payton Jordan the past few years in awe at the blistering times and all the fallen records. This year’s Payton was slated to be no different…it had big international names, professional runners, and some of the top collegians the NCAA has to offer. I was set to run my outdoor 5000m season debut. I was excited to go out and race this elite field and I was in section two which featured Drew Hunter, Matthew Centrowitz, two of my teammates Jon Harper and Clayton Young, as well as, fellow Canadian elite, Ross Proudfoot.
As I arrived at Stanford’s track that evening there was something odd. Stanford is known for having superb weather for track and field, but this time there was swirling winds with gusts up to 25 miles per hour, which is no bueno. Regardless of the weather, I was determined to stick to the plan and remain positive. The opportunity to run fast was still out there as I assumed that the race would have a pacer and that it would remain honest like most events put on by Stanford. I was wrong. No pacer was set to take out the field and I found that out as we toed the line. Once again, I remained positive because being upset would not have helped my situation at all.
The gun fired and I found position near the back and was ready to hop on whatever the field threw at me. The first 200m was run in about 30 seconds up front which looked promising. Shortly after the 200m mark the guys up front slammed on the breaks, as they did not desire to lead out this field, the next 400m was a pedestrian 70 seconds. I immediately knew that this was not the day for a massive PB, so I took what I was given and began to focus on making the most of this race.
The field of 20 men were all talented and they all wanted position in this tactical 5000m. As I came off the turns, I would swing wide to attempt to move up in the field, but everyone else was thinking the same thing, which made it very difficult to change position. After a few laps of attempting to improve my position in the pack, that I had started in the back of, I decided to get on the rail and just relax. Splits began to clip off in 66-67 seconds. The leader came through 2500m in 7:00 which was lackluster when considering the talent this field had and I was about 2-3 seconds off that. At this point I was very comfortable and relaxed in the pack and the pace was rather consistent. I kept doing the math in my head of what I had to close in, in order to PB on that day and with each split it looked less likely. The positive spin on this is that my next few races would most likely feature similar tactics being the regional and national meet.
The last kilometer of this race was actually what every runner loves, a great race. I had quite a bit left in the tank due to the modest pace and I closed that last kilometer in 2:38. It was fun battling the competition around me that included Ross Proudfoot, a two-time Canadian Cross Country Champion. I was a little boxed in from chasing down the leaders, which was my own fault, which made me out of contact as the real race unfolded. I closed out this tactical, windy night with a 13:52, my second fastest time ever and 6th time breaking the 14-minute barrier for 5k.
Taking a look back on the race I had fun, got some championship style experience, even if that wasn’t the plan, and I ran my second best 5k off of a really slow pace on a windy day. I know there is plenty of room to improve on the mark and with a nice taper over the next 4 weeks I will be ready to take on the NCAA’s best at regionals and nationals! Next stop, a tango with the Texas heat; question is… 10k? 5k? or both!?
In Utah BYU's track is the host for the state meet. I ran about a dozen races there throughout my high school career and to me it was a special place. When I committed to run at BYU I was thrilled to call the Clarence Robison track home.
Here in my 3rd year @ BYU I have done countless workouts on this track, but I had not raced at a home meet at all due to multiple circumstances. As you could imagine I was excited to compete on this nostalgic track.
I also ran a distance that I had only done on one other occasion since getting to college, the mile. There is a certain appeal to being a miler (1500m runner). I know many "long-distance" runners wish they had the wheels to run it due to the fact many consider it the most exciting event in track and field.
I thought it would be fun to play pretend for the weekend, and treat the mile as a tune-up for Payton Jordan 5k this upcoming weekend. The race plan was simple, win. The competition was mostly local smaller division one schools and my own teammates, and to be honest I liked my chances.
The field was set to be rabitted through 1209m at 3:03 to 3:05, the rabbit was my fellow teammate and 1500m all-American Chase Horrocks. Chase is the ideal rabbit, he's about 6 foot 3 inches and as wide as a pick up truck. The first lap was smooth, even though the feild was 18 men deep I got right behind Chase at the gun. I began to think a bit too much at this point. I knew I didn't want the field to be sitting on me when Chase stepped off with 400m to go, I slowed and allowed a few guys to come around me.
The middle portion of the race I stayed in about 4th or 5th on the rail patiently while the pace was honest. First 809m was 2:03.xx for the leaders. At about 1k I realized that it was go time and I moved up into position for the bell.
With 400m to go the clock read 3:06 and I was right behind Marcus Dickson one of BYU's better middle distance runners (1:48 800m, 3:44 1500m) and Clayton Young a 7:48 3000m runner. I knew that this was a tough bunch but I wanted that home meet "W". Marcus went around Clayton on the back stretch and I followed suit. With 200m to go I was in prime position to strike, I came off the turn behind Marcus and swung wide. We battled the whole way in and he held me off all the way to the line to beat me by 0.07 seconds.
I ran 4:05.60 which was the fastest anyone has gone @ BYU since Miles Batty the former collegiate record holder and NCAA champ in the mile went 4:04. I was really pleased with the performance and was proud of the effort. According to TFFRS this converted (with altitude and distance) to a 3:42.95 1500m.
This is probably the last time I run the mile or 1500m this year but I know now what I am capable of and will try to join that sub-4 club next indoors. Next stop Payton Jordan!
Everyone tells horror stories about the 10k on the track and you never really bat an eye, but last night (Thursday, April 13th, 2017) I ran the grueling 25 lapper for the first time. Let me start by saying it just took an exhausting amount of time, nearly half an hour (28:58.74) of continuous circles of pain.
I am being a little dramatic about my debut, because to be honest, for over half the race I felt just about as good as you can…until I didn’t. Coach Eyestone told me to break the race into thirds in order to not feel overwhelmed by the daunting numbers I read on the lap counter. Since that is how Coach told me to break up the race, I think that’d be a fine way to tell the story.
The first 9 laps were probably the most chaotic, in a way. We went out way too slow for my liking with a couple 71s and a 72 mixed in the first 1200m. At that point, Vincent Kiprop, a DII kid that I had never had the pleasure of racing, decided it was time to get serious dropping a nice 67 making my first mile about 4:42. Within the next four laps, the race got single file…just how I wanted it and I was clipping off 68s and feeling nice coming through 2 miles in around 9:16-18.
The next 8 laps got harder, but I took them one at a time and still felt in control. I heard a lot of 68s and 69s in this portion of the race and was excited when I saw 14:26 on the clock for 5k. At the moment Nico Montanez, my training partner and teammate, and I came through the halfway point, I believed we were ready to tackle the next 12.5 laps no problem. How naive could one be? The race kept going, but time began to slow down as we clipped off another 400m. It was at 6400m where I really felt like I had to just focus on staying smooth and making it to my next split.
The last 8 laps were the true test of grit. Nico had fallen off of me and I was about 20 meters behind the next competitor who was Jacob Choge of Middle Tennessee State at the time. I stared at the back of his jersey as the laps slowly passed and I dropped a few sad 70s, at which point I knew it was time to focus in and really grind with grit and perseverance. As I approached the last 4 laps, Choge had moved up and passed two athletes in the field, who were Amon Terer of Campbell University and some dude in a Nike kit. I then honed in on Terer and tried to close the gap. As 800m were left in the race, I knew I had to close hard to catch him and to even break 29 minutes. The bell lap rang and I was about 15-20m behind Terer and I had to close in 64.xx to break the 29-minute barrier, I went to the arms and found a few more gears and ran a 63.00 (According to Coach Eyestone’s split). I finally crossed the finish line and was happy with my efforts.
I was happy with the experience I gained in my first ever 10k and I felt my time was ‘good enough’ for that day. Now, I am dealing with some sore calves from wearing spikes for nearly half an hour, but I’m ready to tackle the next few weeks of training as I prepare to run half as long @ Payton Jordan. I look forward to my future in this event and cringe at the thought of having to run well over a minute faster in order to make world teams in the future.