ISU women’s cross country aims for nationals

Kyle Heim

With expectations of going to nationals at the end of the year, the ISU women’s cross country team is taking a laid back approach to training.

But that doesn’t mean the runners aren’t anxious to get back out on the course and compete.

“They’re ready to go,” said ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough. “We know we’re good. Because we’re holding some of those big guns out, we’ll still not be as good as we’re going to be. I like that though.”

Grove-McDonough plans to send as many healthy runners as possible to the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 27. Redshirt freshman Erin Hooker will make her much-anticipated debut for the Cyclones, along with graduate student Margaret Connelly, who transferred from Brown University.

Sophomores Bethanie Brown and Maryn Lowry, along with graduate student Kate DeSimone, also a transfer from Brown, will not compete at the upcoming invitational. Freshmen on the team will be held out as well.

The rest of the roster is expected to race, including junior Crystal Nelson.

“Because I’m only taking seven [runners] to the [Wisconsin Adidas Invitational], I’m running as many people as I can at this meet, especially because they allow unlimited entries,” Grove-McDonough said.

Grove-McDonough said the team has not been training at a high rate because it’s confident in their ability to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

“At this point of the season, it’s pretty low key so far preparing for races,” said freshman Olivia Robertson.

The team is also focused on trying to prevent any injuries or setbacks from occurring.

“We’re increasing our fitness and trying to stay healthy because it’s just the start of the cross country season,” said freshman Evelyne Guay.

Grove-McDonough has been able to focus her attention on the NCAA Championships and not worry about getting points during invitational for an at large bid into the championships.

“This year, more so than I’ve ever been able to do as a coach, we’re worried about peaking at the NCAAs,” Grove-McDonough said. “We’re very confident that we’ll get an automatic bid in our region into the NCAAs.”

The team will have to wait ten days before many of the runners’ season debuts. The invitational is expected to begin 12:20 p.m. Sept. 27 in Minneapolis.

“A lot of the girls are so much further ahead than where they’ve been before,” Grove-McDonough said. “They know they’re really fit, but sometimes they just need to see it to believe it.”

After the Roy Griak Invitational, the team will compete in its last competition at Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 17 before preparing for the Big 12 Championships.