Bib No. 64 pinned to his uniform, Bayfield High School alum Steve Flint wrapped up his Brigham Young University cross-country career in outstanding fashion. He was the first Cougar harrier across the finish line at the 2014 NCAA Division I National Championships Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Flint clocked 31 minutes, 15.1 seconds on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross-Country Course and finished 67th (out of 246) to lead the Cougars to a 16th-place standing in the fall's final competition.
"It was something special," Flint said Dec. 4 via phone, when asked about the significance of being the lead runner for such a program. "All sports in the NCAA, it's just hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears.so to be able to see the fruits of your labor is very special."
It was head coach Ed Eyestone's 13th top-20 result at nationals in 15 years heading the BYU men's program. BYU also was in the top 20 for a seventh consecutive year with a 437-point total. The University of Colorado repeated its title win with 65 points. Indiana State University served as the hosts of the season's penultimate event.
"It was a solid effort for our men today," Eyestone commented to BYU Athletics. "We came in ranked 15th and would have liked to improve on that, but we beat half the field and I'm proud of our guys."
"It was a ... unique race," Flint said. "Usually at Nationals everyone goes out really fast, but this time everyone went out kind of slow.it was very unexpected! It kind of threw off our team strategy, but it didn't really throw off my personal strategy. And in the second half of the race I was in a position to move up, do some damage."
On Nov. 14, Flint paced nationally-ranked BYU with an 18th-place 30:17.36 at the 10-kilometer Mountain Regionals in Albuquerque.
BYU took third behind CU and Northern Arizona University. Flint ran the route about three seconds slower than NAU senior Tyler Byrne (30:14.59) and about three faster than Air Force senior Riley Coates (30:20.93).
"A lot of it.was that I was extremely motivated to perform my senior year," said Flint, recalling preseason surgery on his left knee that prevented him from training for about eight weeks until mid-July, and left him packing some unwanted extra pounds.
"Last year we had a lot of good runners graduate, so I felt there was a lot more responsibility on this year's senior class."
In Terre Haute, the son of Jim and Jayne Flint finished in a five-man group separated by just 1.2 ticks from Indiana sophomore Jason Crist (31:14.5) in 65th to Oklahoma State senior Kirubel Erassa (31:15.7) in 69th. Eastern Kentucky senior Ole Hesselbjerg (66th, 31:14.9) and Stanford sophomore Garrett Sweatt (68th, 31:15.5) immediately preceded and followed Flint across the line.
"I think all the racing strategies I learned in high school.really carried me through to where I'm at today," said the 26-year-old. "It definitely brings back a lot of good memories."
University of Oregon sophomore Edward Cheserek was the individual champion in 30:19.4, with senior teammate Eric Jenkins (30:23.2) making the first such 1-2 punch-for any program-in 25 years.
FAST-MOVING MONTH: Much like many competitors at the NCAA Championships, Flint's per-mile pace of 5:01.7 was, by his recent standards, slow. He had averaged 4:52.5 at the Mountain Regionals, and 4:45 in placing seventh at the eight-kilometer West Coast Conference Championships Nov. 1 at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, Calif. He clocked 23:33.6 for that distance.
Entering the upcoming 2015 track-and-field season, starting with BYU's Cougar Collegiate Invitational Jan. 9-10 in Provo, Utah, he holds an awesome one-mile p.r. of 4:10.69.