ISU cross country fares well in Minnesota, prepares for next invitational


Crystal Nelson, left, races to a third-place finish at last year’s Roy Griak Invitational.

Kyle Heim

Seven runners clocked times for the ISU women’s cross country team at the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 27, but the top time came as no surprise.

After leading her team to victory in the final five events of the season last year, junior Crystal Nelson continued her streak with a third-place finish at the invitational.

For the second straight season, Nelson placed third at the Roy Griak Invitational. Senior Katy Moen crossed the finish line two seconds later, clocking in at 20 minutes, 47 seconds and earning fourth place overall.

The pair of runners helped Iowa State finish as the runner-up at the event behind No. 3 Michigan State.

“It felt awesome to have Katy right there with me and the other girls also right behind us,” Nelson said. “I think we achieved our goal of staying together through the first 2k and 4k.”

After originally expecting to sit out for the invitational, sophomore Bethanie Brown finished third for the Cyclones and 16th overall.

Graduate student Margaret Connelly and sophomore Perez Rotich followed Brown with 37th and 42nd place finishes, respectively.

“I thought Bethanie Brown did a great job considering we’ve been unsure if we were going to run her or not,” said ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough. “She’s coming along and getting her health back together.”

The team used the same strategy it did earlier this season at the Bulldog Classic by starting the race easy and sticking close together for as long as possible.

“I thought the race [was] pretty slow, which ended up helping because it was really hot out there,” Grove-McDonough said. “Maybe our four and five [runners] were a little farther back than they should’ve been, but it gives us a lot to build on. We have work to do.”

After competing in temperatures in the mid-’80s, the team will focus on recovering this week during practice.

“Some of the girls were really affected by the heat,” Grove-McDonough said. “We certainly have some work to do between now and NCAAs but we feel really good about this start to the season.”

Nelson said she started feeling tired during the last 200 and 400 meters of the race and didn’t feel up to full speed. She said speed work will be a focus during practice in preparation for the end of the season.

Rotich said adding endurance is also key to having a good performance in the team’s next competition.

The team has three weeks to prepare before traveling to Madison, Wis. to compete in the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 17. The invitational will be the last of the season before the Big 12 Championships begin in November.