Women’s cross-country team repeats as Big 12 champs, men finish fifth


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. 

Mark Specht

For the second-straight year, the Cyclone women’s team has claimed a Big 12 championship. 

At the same time, the men’s team left the championship in Austin, Texas slightly disappointed with a fifth-place finish.

On the women’s side senior Betsy Saina became Iowa State’s first Big 12 cross-country champion. 

True freshman Crystal Nelson was named Big 12 Newcomer of the year.

Saina (first), Nelson (eighth), senior Meaghan Nelson (second), junior Samantha Bluske (ninth) and sophomore Katy Moen (14th) were all named All-Conference. The team’s 6-through-10 runners also managed strong showings.

In addition to Saina’s first place finish the Cyclone women also claimed the second, eight, ninth, 14th and 16th positions.

The teams six through 10 runners also managed strong showings.

“Our 6-through-10 runners majorly stepped it up,” Bluske said. “Everyone did what they were supposed to and got the work done.”

The Cyclone women beat second place Oklahoma State by an impressive 47 points. Despite the victory, the women’s team felt as though it still didn’t run their best race.

“There are some races where your legs feel amazing your body feels amazing, but I think a couple [runners] were a little bit tired and that’s just where we are in training,” said assistant cross-country coach Travis Hartke. “It’s not like we’ve peaked and we’re ready to feel our best at the Big 12 Championships. 

“Obviously we’ve got other goals down the line that are important.”

The Cyclone women will now set their sights on training for the NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 9 and then the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17.

“These next three weeks, coach told us, our lives have to be 100 percent running,” Bluske said.

“We’ve put in way to much work and our momentum has been going forward all season.”

Bluske mentioned that many of the women have put in close to 20 weeks of training.

The Cyclone men went into the Big 12 Championship hoping to push for a third place finish but ultimately ended up taking fifth place instead.

Junior Mohamed Hrezi did provide a bright spot for the men’s team taking 14th overall and being named All-Conference.

“I was ecstatic it was a surreal feeling,” Hrezi said.

For the men’s team as a whole, Hrezi thinks the race was a “wake up call” for the team and that it will motivate the runners going into NCAA Midwest Regional race.

If the men’s team doesn’t manage at least a fourth place finish at regionals, its berth in the NCAA nationals meet will be up in the air.