Women’s cross-country aims for three-peat at NCAA regionals; men’s team show potential


Photo: Huiling Wu/Iowa State Daily

Meaghan Nelson and Betsy Saina practice on Monday for the upcoming cross-country meet behind the Lied Recreation Athletic Center. Saina and Nelson got second and fourth places respectively in the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. 

Emily Hejlik

The ISU women’s cross-country team will attempt a three-peat on Friday, Nov. 9, when it competes at the NCAA Midwest Regionals in Springfield, Mo.

Last season, the Cyclones won comfortably, placing four of their top-five runners in the top 10. They were led by senior All-American Betsy Saina’s runner-up finish for the second straight year. Close behind was fellow senior All-American Meaghan Nelson, who came in fourth, then-senior Dani Stack in seventh and junior Morgan Casey taking 10th.

“We just need to go out and run like we have run all year, and it should be a very comfortable competition for the women,” said associate head coach Travis Hartke. “The main opponents are Oklahoma State and Minnesota, but we don’t have to do anything extraordinary to make it to the NCAA nationals.”

The top two finishing teams at the Midwest Regional will receive automatic bids to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky. The third- and fourth-place finishing teams will likely earn at-large berths that will be announced Saturday, Nov. 10.

Additionally, the top four individual finishers from nonqualified teams will advance to the NCAA meet.

“As a team, it is our goal to repeat and win, and I think we’re capable of achieving that goal,” said Nelson. “We just need to take this step as it comes, so we can get qualified for the national meet, where we have larger goals. We’re hoping to continue to keep improving with each meet and to run our best race at the end of the season.”

In order for the men to advance, they need to have a similar race as they had at Wisconsin a month ago — there are good teams in the region, but with fourth or better finish, the Cyclone men should make the NCAA meet.

“We have seen a glimpse of a team that has the potential to be a top-20 team in the men at NCAAs, but that cannot happen without running the quality race that they are ready to run this weekend,” Hartke said.

The men’s squad finished sixth last year at the Midwest Regional with a score of 182, failing to qualify for nationals.

Then-senior Rico Loy paced the Cyclone men, earning an 18th-place finish and All-Region honors. Sophomore Edward Kemboi and Junior Martin Coolidge crossed the finish line together at 28th and 29th place.

Junior Falko Zauber is coming off of a 37th place finish at the Big 12 Championships, in which the team finished fifth overall. He stresses the significance of this race.

“This meet is very important to us because it can be our last meet of the year if we do not advance to nationals,” Zauber said. “We went home very disappointed last year and we do not want that feeling again this year. Personally, I ran poorly, and I am excited to prove that I can run a fast 10K.”