Women’s cross country sweeps podium at Bulldog 4K Classic


From left, redshirt sophomores Taylor McDowell, Julie Wiemerslage and Heidi Engelhardt run toward the finish line at the Bulldog 4K Classic in Des Moines on Aug. 30. 

Kyle Heim

Rain appeared early and often at the Bulldog 4K Classic on Aug. 29, but the ISU women’s cross country team made the biggest splash.

Sophomore Heidi Engelhardt led a pack of four Cyclones who swept the top four spots at the event.

Engelhardt clocked a 14:44 time, followed by redshirt sophomore teammates Julie Wiemerslage, Taylor McDowell and Colleen Riley. The second, third and fourth place finishers clocked times of 14:45, 14:46 and 14:50, respectively.

“Julie [Wiemerslage] surprised me in a great way,” said head coach Andrea Grove-McDonough. “She’s put in a really good summer and it did really pay off, so that’s exciting.”

Wiemerslage finished in seventh place at last year’s Bulldog Classic.

Iowa State won the event, scoring 19 points. Drake finished second with 69 points, followed by Northern Iowa, Iowa and Creighton.

For the second straight year, ISU runners have battled through imperfect weather conditions to take first at the Bulldog Classic. Last year, the team competed in 103-degree heat.

“The grass was really tall and it was pretty wet, so the surface wasn’t great,” Wiemerslage said. “But it wasn’t too bad. At least it was cooled off from the rain.”

Grove-McDonough’s strategy for her starting seven was to stay outside of the top ten for the first kilometer, move through the field and then finish strong.

“They executed really well,” Grove-McDonough said. “They got to the front a little sooner than I thought.”

Grove-McDonough’s top four runners formed a pack early and did not break apart until the end.

“I just wanted to be controlled and relaxed throughout the race, and then not really race until the final K,” McDowell said.

The Bulldog 4K Classic provided Grove-McDonough an opportunity to examine the depth of her roster after scratching her top six runners from the event.

“We’re not going to bleed too much if we loose one of our top six [runners],” Grove-McDonough said.

The team will have to wait almost a month before competing in its next competition. It travels to Minneapolis on Sept. 27 to race in the Roy Griak Invitational.

“Even at the Griak, we’re going to ask some of these girls to run and give them some experience in a scoring position at an important meet,” Grove-McDonough said. “They needed the [Bulldog Classic], but the Griak is a whole other thing. It’s 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.”