BYNG — Byng cross country coach Josh Sawyer is shipping senior AJ Gustin off to his brother.

Gustin signed a letter of intent Tuesday to continue his cross-country career at East Central University. Gustin will be under the watchful eye of ECU coach Steve Sawyer.

“I’m extremely happy for AJ,” Josh Sawyer said. “He is one of, if not the hardest working kid I’ve had the pleasure of coaching, this is one of the biggest reasons my brother recruited him. He’s going to be a huge asset to the ECU program. I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in college.”

Steve Sawyer said he’s looking forward to working with Gustin.

“AJ is a great addition to our program here at ECU. We pride ourselves on hard work and dedication and that is exactly what we are getting with AJ,” Steve Sawyer said. “We are excited about his future as a Tiger.”

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Gustin as part of the Pirate program at Byng. He suffered a torn ACL as a sophomore and spent his senior season dodging COVID-19 like many other athletes across the state and nation.

Gustin finished 14th at the Class 4A state cross country meet with a time fo 17:20.82.

“He has worked really hard for the past four years to get to where he is today and had a rough time getting here,” Josh Sawyer said. “But he has been able to stay focused and push through it all. That says a lot about the kind of kid he is and how mentally tough he is.”

Gustin helped the Pirates finish fourth as a team at the state meet behind only private schools Oklahoma Christian School, Community Christian and Lincoln Christian.

“I’m going to miss AJ tremendously, but the good thing is I still have him for one more track season,” Josh Sawyer said. “This will be his first track season since his freshman year after not being able to run his sophomore year due to a knee injury and then his junior season being canceled due to COVID. I can’t wait to see him back on the track next spring.”

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Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.

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