Women’s cross-country wins again, men’s team gains momentum


Iowa State’s Betsy Saina rounds one of her final laps during the Women’s 5,000-meter run Feb. 12 at Lied Recreation Athletic Center.

Mark Specht

The ISU women’s cross-country team extended its winning streak to two at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Friday in Madison, Wis. 

The victory comes just two weeks after a win at the Roy Griak Invitational.

Senior Betsy Saina led the team with a second place finish, and senior Meaghan Nelson followed close behind to finish fourth overall.

The Cyclones managed to have five runners within the top 50 en route to a dominating 72-point victory, beating second-place Stanford.

ISU assistant cross-country coach Travis Hartke called the victory “pretty big,” but thinks with the team’s ultimate goal being to do well at nationals, it will need to keep the win in perspective.

“I think at the end we just were really excited with where we are at,” said junior Samantha Bluske. 

“But we told ourselves we could be excited for a few hours, but then we had to forget about it because there’s five more weeks left of the season.”

There were 48 teams in the field, with No. 2 Arizona and No. 3 Washington among them. 

The Cyclones entered the race ranked No. 5 nationally.

“[The Wisconsin Adidas Invitational] is a national level type environment and that’s the type of racing we’ll have to do at the NCAA Championships,” Hartke said. 

“It’s a confidence booster.”

Hartke believes the win may place the Cyclones second nationally. 

Bluske called a potential leap in the polls “both good and bad.”

“I think we’re really going to be able to scare some people now and then also it’s kind of we’re the ones with a target on our back,” Bluske said. 

“We kind of like to fly under the radar and now we’re going to be known more.”

As it works toward the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17, the women’s team will continue to try to work on getting the spread between its two through five runners to fewer than 30 seconds. 

The spread between the two and five runners at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational was 42 seconds.

The ISU men’s team came closer to achieving its goal of making the NCAA Championships at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. 

The men’s team tallied a 16th place finish, just ahead of a No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 16 Minnesota.

“Overall we’re happy with [the race],” said sophomore Josh Heitkamp.

”It’s taking the right steps for us to meet our goal of going to nationals this year, but we still feel like there’s a big upside for us and we’re capable of a lot more.”

The Cyclone men’s and women’s cross country teams will return to action Oct. 27 in Austin, Texas, where they will compete at the Big 12 Championships.