PROVO — Many people only dream of being a national champion.
“It was probably one of the best weekends of my life,” he said.
Batty, a senior from Sandy, Utah, went into the 2011 NCAA Indoor National Championships with high expectations, but he never could have predicted the results of that weekend.
On the first day of the championships, the BYU distance medley relay team, with Batty as the anchor, was able to escape close finishes by both Indiana and Minnesota to secure the national title with a time of 9 minutes, 29.28 seconds.
The next day, Batty came away with his own individual championship in the mile, narrowly beating Chris O’Hare from Tulsa with an impressive sprint down the homestretch, finishing with a time of 3:59.49.
“Winning something individually is awesome, but winning something as a team is great as well,” Batty said. “The guys on that relay team worked so hard and they wanted it so bad, so it was great to help them finish it out and win the race. And then to come back the next day and win one for myself in the mile was a very cool experience.”
With Batty’s talent and ability, some would assume that he had been running his whole life. But growing up in Arizona, Batty preferred other sports.
“I have two brothers who are close in age to me and growing up we loved playing sports and especially basketball,” Batty said. “We would play on a dirt court with a hoop nailed onto a pine tree.”
After moving to Sandy, Utah, he even played football as a kid, but his small size limited his capabilities.
“I was really short for a long time,” Batty said. “When I was in ninth grade I was probably still under 5 foot 4 and I had tried playing football for fun, but I was so small I literally got injured the first time I was tackled. It was our first day in pads and I hurt my ACL.”
While in rehab for his knee his freshman year, Batty had a friend recommend he join the cross country and track teams.
“We were in the same gym class every year in middle school and we always ran the mile that you had to run in gym class together,” Batty said. “He started running cross country and said he was doing really well with it and told me I needed to try it out.”
By that time cross country season was already over, so Batty first joined the track team the following spring. Although he had a knack for the sport, success didn’t come immediately.
“I think my first 2-mile time was over 12 minutes,” Batty said. “Kyle Parry and John Cotter, who both run for BYU, were in the first 2-mile race I ever ran and they both lapped me, and Kyle almost lapped me twice.”
As high school continued, Batty progressed each year, running both cross country and track, and he credits his persistence in the sport to a coach at Jordan High School.
“I had a good high school coach who was close in age to us,” Batty said. “He trained with us and ran with us and he was really good with helping us set goals. I think he was the one that helped me really get into the sport to the point where I realized I would keep doing it for all of high school. “
It wasn’t until his senior year of high school when Batty realized he could probably run at the university level.
“You always think it’s a possibility but I have always tried to be very realistic,” Batty said. “My senior year was when it all really became a reality, though, because I won the state championship in cross country and then I started to get calls from (BYU) coach Ed Eyestone.”
Along with BYU, Batty seriously considered offers from Ivy League schools, until he became aware of certain rules that would prohibit him from serving an LDS mission.
“I knew I didn’t want to go to any other in-state school besides BYU,” Batty said. “I really wanted to go out of state to an east coast, Ivy League school and I was talking with a coach from Columbia quite a bit, but they had a rule about leaving and once he figured out I was going on a mission that was the end of that.”
Batty ran his freshman year for BYU in 2005 and then left for two years to serve a mission in Brazil. Upon returning, Batty admits to being the definition of out of shape.
“I gained a lot of weight on my mission, like thirty pounds,” Batty said. “I probably ran as much on my whole mission as I would in three or four days now.”
Although most runners redshirt the whole year in order to get back in shape, Batty was determined to not lose the entire year.
“I got back in the middle of August so I didn’t have enough time to do anything by cross country season, but it was my goal to be traveling by track season,” Batty said. “By the time track came around I was in pretty good shape and I was able to take second in the Mountain West Conference Championships in the indoor mile and third in the 1500 (meters).”
And Batty has done nothing but amazed since then.
Batty not only won two national championships last year, he also garnered award after award — from MWC Player of the Year and U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-American to being named the National Men’s Track Athlete of the Year.3 comments on this story
Along with the numerous amounts of both academic and athletic awards that Batty received over the 2010-2011 seasons, he also broke the BYU mile record at the Husky Classic in Washington. With a time of 3:55.79, Batty broke a 31-year old record, which was set by Doug Padilla in 1980, by 1.06 seconds.
But going into his senior year, Batty doesn’t want to necessarily compare this season to last — he just wants to look forward and get better day by day.
“The biggest thing for me is I just want to keep improving on my times,” Batty said. “We have the record board in the Smith Fieldhouse and I just want to get up there as many times as I can and keeping doing my part to help my team. “