Men’s cross-country team readies for home meet

Mark Specht

For the past two seasons, the ISU men’s cross-country team had the goal to make it to nationals, and for the past two seasons, it has fallen short of that goal.

Redshirt sophomore Josh Heitkamp, who finished second overall at the Drake Bulldog Classic in August, said this year’s team has a different mentality.

“The past couple of years it’s been, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll get better as the year goes on,’” Heitkamp said. “But now there’s not so much of a sense of urgency, but we want to be better now.”

Freshman Caleb Abfall agreed with Heitkamp’s sentiment.

“We’re all focused and determined,” Abfall said. “I think we all have a tenacity about this year.”

In preparation for races, the team has been practicing two times each week, and many members have been running what will be their highest miles per week of the season.

“We’re taking advantage of this time to work out hard and get a lot of mileage in,” said sophomore Alec Bollman. ”When we get into race season, we do have one every week and every two weekends, so the chance to pick up your mileage and get good training in kind of goes down from there.”

The only home meet of the year will be the Iowa Intercollegiate meet Saturday. The meet, an 8,000-meter race, will take place at the ISU cross-country course just west of the Wallace and Wilson towers.

Bollman described the course as being tough, adding with a laugh: “It has a lot of hills.” Bollman said the team has practiced out on the course doing mile repeats, K-repeats and hill workouts.

Historically, the Cyclones have treated their home meet as a workout because they face mostly the smaller schools of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“In the past years, we were guaranteed basically a victory,” Heitkamp said. “It’s basically get through it, work hard and do what coach tells us, whether it’s racing or using it as a workout.”

However, this year the team’s approach to the race may change with former Big 12 rival Missouri possibly attending.

“By all means we’re not going to go down without a fight,” Heitkamp said. “With Missouri coming up and if they bring their team, then we’re definitely probably going to race to win.”