Rory Linkletter of BYU was the winner of the men’s white race at Pre-Nationals in Wisconsin this past weekend. Linkletter was behind the pack with only 400 metres to go but closed strong to come away with the win. Linkletter said he wanted to go out strong and be in position early. “I was in contact with the top pack as we approached the final couple of kilometres. There’s a big hill in the last kilometre, which brings you to the final 400 metres where the finish line is in sight. I felt pretty good at the point.”
Linkletter prides himself on his ability to close well, and he executed the final 250m perfectly. “I passed with some authority, and I knew at that point that there wasn’t going to be a response. I won by a hair.” The BYU student says that he wasn’t thinking about winning when he started kicking–he was just trying to catch bodies for the team score.
Last year the NCAA team title was predicted as a battle between BYU and NAU. Linkletter says that his team got too caught up in the hype. “We placed a big emphasis on the outcome of the race last year. We wanted it so badly that it become a detriment to the team.” Linkletter felt torched by the two-kilometre mark, and so did many of his teammates. The team ended up placing third. “It was a lot of wasted emotional energy.”
Could Linkletter have a Justyn Knight 2017 moment in November? For sure. Is that his focus? No. This year Linkletter is looking to put together a solid race. He and his team are less focused on place and more concerned with executing a strong run. “The NCAA is so deep that you can never discount another team or runner. NAU and Stanford, for example, are both looking very strong.”
Linkletter is in his senior year and will begin his post-collegiate running career in the fall of 2019. “After college I will continue to train but I haven’t decided where, or with what company. I know that I want to train for the Olympics in 2020. I don’t know what event. A lot of that depends on how this cross-country and track season goes. I plan on running for a long time. I love the sport.”
The runner is putting a big emphasis on Canadian cross-country nationals: he’s looking to make the world cross-country team. “I love competing at ACXC, meeting those athletes at the top level of Canadian running. Quite a few really good athletes are going to try to make this team, and I want to be one of them.”
When asked about the blue jean mile, Linkletter laughs and says that it’s likely over, but with a little encouragement he would consider trying again. “I was a fun moment, I consider it my greatest PR stunt.” Linkletter is the former world record holder in the event.
The NCAA Cross-Country Championships will take place November 17th in Wisconsin.