Senior Jason Witt used a late surge to take first overall Saturday and lead a dominating team performance in Malibu, Calif., giving No. 5 BYU cross-country its second West Coast Conference Championship in three years.
“It was a nice overall team performance,” head coach Ed Eyestone said. “We had five of our guys in front of their (Portland’s) third. Spencer (Gardner) had a nice run to be our fifth man and seal it for us. I knew that he (Witt) and (Tylor) Thatcher had a good chance to win. It looked like Witt might have been content to finish third at the end, but he found another gear that last 400 meters to take first.”
Witt held the lead for much of the race but was passed by San Francisco’s Eric Causey and Portland’s Scott Fauble on the final lap. Fauble opened up a sizeable lead, but Witt’s late sprint to finish came just in time to take the lead and the victory.
“I didn’t feel like I was slowing down,” Witt said. “I saw them getting out to a lead, I just wanted to save my energy for the last 400 meters and give myself a chance. My highest goals were to be top 10 at Wisconsin, to win this meet and to be an All-American at nationals. I have taken care of two of those, now I just need to do well at nationals.“
The Cougars finished with 30 points. No. 6 Portland finished with 48 points to come in second place, and Loyola Marymount had 110 to finish third.
Steve Flint, Tylor Thatcher and Thomas Gruenewald finished in fifth, sixth and seventh place, respectively, and as the second through fourth team finishers for the Cougars. Spencer Gardner was the last scoring runner for BYU, placing 11th overall.
The Cougars compete next at the NCAA Mountain Regional Championships on Nov. 15 in Ogden, Utah, and hope to qualify to go to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.
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.