Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Men's #6- BYU

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Head Coach: Ed Eyestone (14th Season)
2012 National Finish- 6th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Tylor Thatcher (Sr., 13:45 5k, 28:59 10k)
  • Tommy Gruenewald (Sr., 4:04 Mile, 8:07 Open 3k, 13:54 5k)
  • Curtis Carr (Sr., 14:20 5k, 8:40 3k Steeple)
  • Jason Witt (Sr., 4:05 Mile, 8:16 Open 3k, 13:58 5k)
  • Steve Flint (Jr., 8:12 Open 3k, 13:57 5k, 8:46 3k Steeple)
  • Taylor Farnsworth (Sr., 8:09 Open 3k, 14:21 5k, 29:33 10k)
Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Jon Nelson (So., Off Mission- 14:20 5k)
  • Korey Krotzer (Fr., From Oklahoma State-4:09 1600m, 9:01 3200m)

Season Preview

After a podium finish in 2011, BYU followed up with a solid 6th place finish at NCAAs and was a little bit disappointed by it. Many things went wrong that day for BYU and a injuries and health issues played key factors in their bid for back to back podium spots. 2013, things are looking a little bit different for the Cougars. Jared Ward lost a season of cross country and just training through cross, preparing for the 2014 track seasons. So that means the mantle of leadership goes to Tylor Thatcher, Tommmy Gruenewald and Jason Witt. 

Losing Jared Ward really hurts BYU. He is the heart and soul of that team. The good news is that BYU was so deep last year, that that depth is still helping push through many quality runners up to the front of the BYU pack. 

Tylor Thatcher is the top guy returning from 2012. Thatcher finished the xc season in Louisville with a 34th place finish and All-American honors. Thatcher is a workhorse and a metronome at practice, and he does a great job of doing the little things that make you better. Coming from a 4:20 and 9:20 high school kid to 13:45 and 28:59, he still has upside and has a legitimate shot to be top-20 individually at NCAAs this year. 

Tommy Gruenewald is starting to figure things out again after coming off a church mission in early 2012. Many of you will remember him from many years ago where he qualified for NXN and Foot Locker every year since a sophomore in high school. His talent is still there and his 13:53 5k PR this outdoor season is proof of that. He has all of the tools to be All-American and if he stays healthy and motivated he should get that done. 

BYU boasts two very good 3k Steeple guys that should factor in the pack in 2013. Curtis Carr surprised much of the country this past spring with his 4th place finish at NCAA Outdoors in the 3k Steeplechase. His 8:40 PR is no joke and he is as solid as they come in cross country. Carr is very consistent and provides stability to the Cougar top five. 

Steve Flint is the other quality steepler for the Cougs. Flint boasts a much better 5k PR than Carr, having run 13:57 and has one of the best kicks in the NCAA. Flint was the no. 5 man for BYU at NCAA XC last year and should be a very good no. 3-4 runner for them this year. 

Jason Witt was the no. 5 man for BYU during their podium finish in 2011 and if he has the summer he was hoping for, he is another guy capable of All-American. Witt has a solid 5k PR of 13:58, and is looking to make up for his second to last finish at NCAA XC in 2012. 

Taylor Farnsworth is a former prep standout who was 13th at FL Finals in 2006. He finally came around toward the end of the track season this past spring where he won his heat of the 10k at Mt. Sac and ran 29:33. If he can stay healthy, he is a solid pack guy that will be pushing the top five the whole year. 

The wildcard for the Cougars is Jon Nelson. With a year under his belt post-church mission service, Nelson is fit and very talented. He redshirted track, but ran all of the workouts right with Gruenewald and Witt and is capable of at least a top-60 finish at NCAAs, if he can stay healthy. Also, Korey Krotzer, who spent a year at Oklahoma State, has recently transferred to BYU and will be fighting for a top seven spot amongst all the guys mentioned above. 

Coach Eyestone is one of the most consistent coaches in the NCAA at getting his team to the NCAA championships. BYU has a shot once again at a podium finish and if things come together for Coach Eyestone and the Cougars, even without Jared Ward, this will be a very good team come Terre Haute in November. 

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