Before he even made his way to Flagstaff, Northern Arizona star distance runner Tyler Day dreamed about the success he has seen during his storied collegiate career.
Running along the canals in the Valley the summer before he came up north, Day said he daydreamed about one day reaching All-American status and even claiming a national title.
“For me, I remember daydreaming going into my freshman year here while I was summer training down at the canals thinking that, ‘Hey, it would be pretty cool if I was an All-American and a national champion one day,’” Day said. "I had visions of it but I knew coming in I was going to get All-American. I didn’t know how long it was going to take but in my heart I knew I was going to do it.”
Well, it really didn’t take long for him to check those off his list.
Day is a four-time All-American in cross country, running as a key part of the Lumberjacks' three-year reign as NCAA champions. On the track, he has established himself as one of the top 10K runners in the NCAA.
At his first outdoor national meet last year, Day took fourth place in All-American fashion. Heading into this year’s national meet, which is being held in Austin, Texas, Wednesday through Saturday, Day knows where he stands among the nation's elite in the distance.
“I feel like I already know my presence is known in the 10K,” Day said. “I know that people know that I’m a dude that thrives on the longer stuff and just say how psychotic I look or whatever. I just want to make sure I represent the school the best I can, and hopefully come away with a better result than last year and just focus on the process.”
Day holds the seventh-best time in the NCAA Division I this season with a 28:24.94 mark, and sits at the No. 12 spot at nationals following a 29:00.55 time in the NCAA West Preliminaries.
The Lumberjacks star runner admitted his performance and mindset during this past indoor season were not the best, and that things could have gone more smoothly.
But that propelled him to go on what he called a “vendetta” this outdoor season as he said he has rekindled the fire now that his cross country eligibility is up.
As for last year’s performance at outdoor nationals, Day wants more than fourth place now that he has a year at the event under his belt.
“For sure, last year I still got All-American and I got fourth place in my first time at outdoor national championships and for me that was a good showing, even though I wanted to reach higher,” Day said.
Day, who went to high school at Mesquite in the Valley, is one of 23 track and field athletes from the state on Northern Arizona’s roster.
With Day being such a talented local product at the state level, Lumberjacks director for track and field and cross country Michael Smith said that is what really makes Day stand out among others who have come through his elite distance program.
“I think a part that really stands out about Tyler is maybe what he is most well-known for. He’s a local Arizona, home-grown talent, and sometimes people take note that we have a Matt Baxter or a Geordie Beamish from New Zealand, but we’re really proud that we got someone on our roster who is one of the best guys from Arizona.”
Day wrapped up his cross country eligibility last season, capping off a dominant cross career with a third straight national title, and now said his focus is fully on track and field with next season being his final collegiate season once nationals is over.
Even though he is done competing with cross country, Day said he will definitely be around the team once next year begins as he prepares himself for indoor and outdoor track competition.
Day is set to run the 10K Wednesday at about 9:08 p.m.