Young runners relieve stress for ISU women’s cross country team


Redshirt sophomores Taylor McDowell, left, and Julie Wiemerslage race toward the finish line at the Bulldog 4K Classic on Aug. 30 in Des Moines. 

Kyle Heim

The passing of the torch is on hold within the ISU women’s cross country team.

After leading their team to victory at the Bulldog 4K Classic, young runners are not quite ready to hand over their starting roles to the leaders of the squad.

Head coach Andrea Grove-McDonough said she plans to ask some of the same women who competed in the Bulldog Classic to compete again in the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 27.

The hopes are to give some of the younger runners on the team some experience in a more important meet.

With the back of the roster producing early in the season, Grove-McDonough is confident in her team’s ability to perform at a high level if any of her top runners experience any setbacks or injuries.

Last year, the Cyclones finished fifth in the Roy Griak Invitational out of 28 teams competing at the event, and a good number of teams are expected to compete again this year.

“[The Griak] is five times the amount of people and there’s a lot of quality national teams going to be there, so it’ll be a different feel,” Grove-McDonough said.

Because the invitational is almost a month away, the team will have plenty of time to train and prepare.

“We’re going to probably do more workouts and get some more long runs in [at practice],” said redshirt sophomore Taylor McDowell.

Runners said the extra time between competitions is more positive than negative.

“I’m excited that we have that much time just because it’s so early on,” said redshirt sophomore Julie Wiemerslage. “We just started our first week of practice. We won’t have to hold back [in practice] because we don’t want to be tired at a race.”

The top runners on the team will have to wait until the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 17 before running in their first competition. The success of the younger runners has taken some stress off the leaders.

“It gives the girls who didn’t race today a lot of confidence in where they’re at and feeling really good about the girls who are stepping up and going to try and push them for a spot in the top group,” Grove-McDonough said.

The slew of depth on the roster has also made it easier for Grove-McDonough from a coaching standpoint.

“From a coach’s perspective, knowing that we have some really strong girls behind them and if called upon at any given point to step, [the team] will be okay,” Grove-McDonough said.

After the Roy Griak Invitational and Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, the women’s cross country team wraps up the season with the Big 12 Championship, NCAA Midwest Regional and NCAA Championships.