LOGAN -- Brian McKenna has a simple philosophy when it comes to determining how well he is running.
It's not where he is in the race that matters, but rather the look on his face and the firm, yet determined reminder of his coaches and teammates that let him know that he has the ability to go the extra mile.
It's a simple -- but effective -- philosophy for the sophomore from Viewmont High School, who will run this morning in the NCAA cross country national championship at Terre Haute, Ind.
"It was a big surprise to be chosen," said McKenna, who secured the honor after finishing 19th at the NCAA Mountain Regional in Albuquerque on Nov. 14. "We had the goal to make it to nationals as a team; so it's kind of bittersweet just because I can't go with my teammates."
"Brian had such a great season and this is kind of like the icing on the cake for him," veteran USU coach Gregg Gensel said. "It is the reward he gets after having such a great season."
McKenna's team-first mentality may seem odd for those unacquainted with the sport, which sees runners like McKenna compete as both individuals and as team members. The sophomore is humble when considering his success.
"This year we really have tried to run well together; to try to push each other and motivate each other," says McKenna, who also credits his teammates with helping him to fight through injury last season.
Getting to the national championship has been no small task for McKenna, who led the Aggies to a fifth straight Western Athletic Championship in Reno, Nev. on Oct. 31.
Balancing a demanding schedule which includes practice sessions, classes, cross country and track and field, the academic all-WAC selection says that the support and friendships of his teammates make the often grueling routine worth it.
McKenna says he plans to "scout-out" nationals for his fellow Aggie runners.
"For me, it's about getting a good feel for the course and how the race is run so that for next year, when our whole team goes, I'll have a good idea of what we're going to be facing and how to get everyone ready," he said.
The BYU men's and women's team will also run in today's races. Oregon sophomore Luke Puskedra, an Ogden native, will also compete in the men's race.