PROVO - Tylor Thatcher and the No. 4 BYU men’s cross-country team won the Autumn Classic on Saturday morning, beating conference rival and eighth ranked Portland.
“It’s my first collegiate cross-country win, so that is a big step for me,” Thatcher said. “I wanted a good showing. My dad is here so I wanted to impress him. We wanted to prove that we could run with Portland and this was definitely a confidence booster for our team.”
The Cougars ended up with 25 points to Portland’s 33. Thatcher finished in 19:54.1 and held the lead for most of the race. He was followed closely by teammate Jason Witt, who took second overall with a time of 20:00.2.
“My main goal was to beat Portland’s top guy so we could get as many in front of their number one guy as possible,” Witt said. “I knew Tylor was going to make a move at some point during that third mile. I went with him and we were able to hold on to the top two spots.”
Portland runners William Kincaid and Scott Fauble took the third and fourth spots, respectively, but BYU sophomore Jonathan Nelson used a late surge finish in fifth place, ahead of two Portland runners.
“I was a little farther back than I would have liked, but I managed to get back up to where I needed to be,” Nelson said. “I prefer to kick at the end. It is more comfortable and I get that burst of energy.”
"This was an exciting race and any time you have No. 4 against No. 8 this early in the season you really don’t know what’s going to happen," head coach Ed Eyestone said. "We felt confident that on our home course, at altitude, we’d have an advantage. Jason Witt really came on and showed that he could be a front-runner. Thatcher will be a low stick all year long but we need some other guys to rise up. That’s what Jason Witt did. It was also important that Jon Nelson came on that end. It really turned the tide as he passed a couple Portland guys.”
Weber State and Idaho State finished with 91 and 99 points, respectively.
BYU will next race on Sep. 28, as the team travels to Minnesota for the Griak Invitational.
Justin Green is the sports information director over men's track and cross country for BYU Athletic Communications. He is a BYU student majoring in public relations and minoring in business and will graduate in April 2013. Email: justinjgreen8@gmail.