Myles Bach, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a Midwest guy. That might be the best way to explain what he brings to the table for the upcoming cross country and track and field seasons.
“Iowa and the Midwest is the center for tough distance runners,” said Pat Tyson, Gonzaga’s director of cross country and track and field. “A lot of our Olympians are from Illinois or Iowa, the heartland. He really exemplifies that. We’ve never had anyone on our roster from Iowa, so he comes in with those Midwest values of hard work and team mentality.”
That grit and team mentality will be crucial as the program sets it sights on its first NCAA cross country championship berth in team history.
In one of the most difficult regions in the country, dominated by schools like University of Portland, Stanford, University of Oregon and University of Washington, this team sees an opportunity to make a run for an at-large or even automatic bid. With meets against perennial NCAA contenders this season, it will aim to do exactly that.
Bach certainly has the pedigree. He is one of the most celebrated incoming freshmen for Tyson’s squad, having won five combined championships in the 3,200-meter run and in the 1,600, as well as the 3A state cross country title in the fall of 2017.
“I’m dedicated, a hard worker,” Bach said. “When I have a goal, I’m going to go all-in on it. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
Prior to his senior year of high school, Bach transferred from Marion High School to Center Point-Urbana, a move he described as difficult. But he feels that it’ll ultimately be beneficial.
“It was definitely a hard move but it made it so I’m not as set in one place,” he said. “I think the transition to first year of college will be easier because of that.”
Perhaps what’s paid off more for Bach was his yearlong hiatus from competition for the 2018-2019 season. After graduating in 2018, he decided not to enroll at GU immediately, instead opting to enter this season as a 19-year-old freshman with another year of school and training under his belt.
“Coming out of high school, I was not quite ready academically or athletically to be at that level,” Bach said.
During this period, he was able to complete a two-year degree while preparing himself to be an immediate contributor. “He didn’t go to sleep during the offseason … He got the job done,” Tyson said. “He’s a year older, a year stronger.”
Bach admitted this was a risk in of itself with late offers from other schools still on the table but he feels it has definitely solidified his place at GU. With Tyson’s support, he was willing to go all-in.
“For me, it was more important to do it the right way and show that I wanted to do something special,” he said.
He pointed to the support of the coaching staff and the opportunity to run for Tyson, who he describesd as “a great coach,” as major reasons for his initial commitment to GU.
The change in weather from the humid Midwest to a drier Northwest climate is also a transition both Bach and his coach are excited for.
“He can deal with intense humidity because maybe the landscape isn’t as pretty as the Northwest,” Tyson said. “He finds a way to get it done. We’re excited to have him on the team”
Bach has spent the past year researching local trails and running spots. That research led him to a conclusion about the climate of his new home.
But Bach is only one part of a heralded freshman class for this team that Tyson described as “best six we’ve ever recruited at once,” compromised of him, Riley Moore, Jackson Lyne, Kyle Radosevich, Evan Bates and Ben Brown.
With every incoming freshman having run under 9 minutes, 20 seconds for the 3,200 meters and under 4:20 for 1,600, Tyson is confident in all of their abilities.
“There’s nobody in this class that is not a potential very good Division I distance runner,” Tyson said. “I would give any one of these six a position on the roster on any team”
For a team that has showed continuous improvement, results this season may be the culmination of multiples seaons of work. Bach is focused on his own improvement but he understands the bigger picture as well.
“I want to come in and get better, get used to running at that level,” he said.“Hopefully we can do things that can take this program to places it hasn’t been before.”