ISU women’s cross country team sends the house to Roy Griak Invitational

Kyle Heim

There is a change in plans for the ISU women’s cross country team this weekend at the Roy Griak Invitational.

After initially planning on holding out her top runners from the event, ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough has decided to run as many healthy runners as she can.

“I just want to get them out there,” Grove-McDonough said. “I think everyone’s anxious to get going. I think they’re bored and they’re ready to go. We just want to get out there and really get a feel for what we need to work on.”

Iowa State will compete with 35 teams from across the nation during the Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Competition at the invitational. Iowa State is the second-highest ranked team at No. 9 behind No. 3 Michigan State.

Despite having an opportunity to move up in the rankings, Grove-McDonough said she has no intentions of taking down the Spartans.

“I don’t expect it to go perfectly,” Grove-McDonough said. “I expect there to be some kinks that we’ll need to work on throughout the season.”

Grove-McDonough said she is looking forward to seeing redshirt freshman Erin Hooker and graduate student Margaret Connelly make their ISU debuts.

“It will be exciting to watch [Hooker and Connelly] run, and it will be really fun for me to see them wearing cardinal and gold,” Grove-McDonough said.

Hooker said her goal for the invitational is helping out the team and helping the other runners finish the race as high in the standings as possible.

With four years ahead of her, Hooker is focusing on becoming a great teammate and becoming acquainted with collegiate running.

“This year, it’s just working hard and being involved in what’s going on,” Hooker said. “I have four more years to do big things.”

The team said that this meet is intended to see how far along each runner is and what the team needs to work on in preparing for the NCAA Championships.

Unlike last year, the team hasn’t been focused on such extensive workouts and practices.

“We only work out twice a week, and only one of those is a hard workout,” said junior Crystal Nelson. “It’s kind of a different dynamic where as last year we were doing two hard workouts each year.”

Nelson, the team’s leading scorer from last year’s squad, will make her season debut at the invitational.

Nelson said her goal is to stay healthy and feel well during the race. She placed third at last year’s event and helped her team to a top-five finish.

This year’s race is scheduled for 12:20 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn.