ISU women’s cross-country beats 3 top-10 teams at Adidas Invitational


Ryan Young/Iowa State Daily

Sophomore Crystal Nelson runs along side freshmen Perez Rotich and Bethanie Brown in practice on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Ryan Young

The No. 28 ISU women’s cross-country team is back in the groove of competition after a two-week hiatus.

The Cyclones took fifth place Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. It was Iowa State’s second top-five finish in two weeks.

Crystal Nelson led the team, finishing 10th overall with a time of 20:02. This race marks her second-consecutive top-10 finish this season.

“I’m really excited about it. I definitely wasn’t expecting to get top-10 today,” Nelson said. “My only goal was to improve form last year. I kind of knew the course this time and knew where to make the moves I needed to make. It was great experience for me.”

Nelson, who finished third at the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 28, wasn’t feeling good before the race. Despite feeling sick, ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough saw great composure from Nelson on the course.

“That’s the really exciting thing about Crystal. Even if she has a bad day, it’s still good,” Grove-McDonough said. “I’m really impressed with her. She has great composure and is really doing good with handling her nerves. She really handled herself well today.”

The field at the Adidas Invitational was one of the strongest Iowa State has seen yet, with were 26 teams that were nationally ranked or had received votes in the national poll.

Iowa State’s fifth-place finish was good enough to beat three top-10 nationally ranked teams.

“I know that coaches say this all the time, but I really knew that we were better than people thought we were,” Grove-McDonough said. “The girls just focused in on the race plan, and they raced with a lot of confidence. We got a lot of great wins today.”

Perez Rotich was the second ISU runner to finish Saturday. She came in 28th place overall, with a time of 20:22. Freshman Bethanie Brown finished 32nd, and senior Katy Moen came in 53rd place.

But what the team felt was the biggest impact on the day was senior runner Ejiro Okoro’s finish.

“Our fifth, sixth and seventh runners got into a hole early. I really got after them and made sure they knew that they had a lot of work to do,” Grove-McDonough said. “When Ejiro came around, I told her I needed her to kick it in. And I’m not kidding, she probably passed 30 bodies. We only beat New Mexico and Dartmouth by about 10 points, so Ejiro’s finish was so important.”

The team will head to the Big 12 Championship meet in two weeks to try to bring home another conference title.

With another gap of time ahead before their next meet, the Cyclones are focusing on the positives of the Adidas Invitational and the experience they felt was gained Saturday.

“I think we got a lot of experience [Saturday]. Learning to work in a huge crowd is very different and a lot more fun,” Brown said. “But I really think we were just in it as a team. We were focused on getting points for Iowa State, not just as individuals.

“We had each other’s back out there, and that will help us in the future.”