ISU cross-country team makes positive steps at Iowa Intercollegiate

An ISU runner crosses the finish line Saturday, Sept 15, at the 2012 Iowa Intercollegiate cross-country race at Cross-Country Course in Ames.

Mark Specht

Despite using their home meet at the ISU cross-country course as a tuneup for the rest of the 2012 season, the ISU men and women’s cross-country teams managed to take second and first place, respectively, Saturday at the Iowa Intercollegiate meet.

In the women’s 6,000-meter race, the Cyclones led with a second-place finish by Samantha Bluske, senior in dietetics, who had a time of 17:58, and took five of the top-eight spots. 

On the ISU women’s side, Emily Meese, senior in kinesiology and health,  finished 22nd overall with a time of 19:39 but is thought to have possibly sprained or pulled an Achilles tendon during the race.

“About the last [kilometer,] it tightened up,” Meese said. “Those last couple of steps were pretty painful.”

Iowa State scored a 24 to top Missouri, which scored a 35. Missouri senior Bailey Belvis won the race with a time of 17:54.

ISU runners Mohamed Hrezi, junior in accounting, and Brian Llamas, freshman in pre-business, finished first and second in the men’s 8,000-meter race, but Missouri, with a score of 25, edged out Iowa State, which had a score of 35.

“Coach [Corey Ihmels] really just wanted us to come and take it out easy and just work our way into it,” Hrezi said. “He didn’t want us to kill it.” 

Hrezi, who is a first-year transfer, said he was “more surprised than happy” to win because, due to his observance of Ramadan, he did little training for about a month.

“Going out with the guys, I’m not even like top-five,” Hrezi said. “I expected to be top-seven, but I just thought whatever happens happens.”

ISU assistant coach Travis Hartke initially described the strategies of both the men and women as “relaxed and smooth” and during the last half of the race as “moving up through the pack.”

When it came to executing the plan, Hartke thought some of the runners exerted more effort than others, and overall, the men did a better job of following that plan.

“You figure things out during races like this,” Hartke said. “It’s not huge, huge competition.”

This year’s home race did have more competition for the Cyclones than they have faced historically at other home races in large part to the presence of recent Big 12 defector Missouri Tigers.

In the men’s race especially, the Tigers pushed the pace. Llamas said that at one point, a group of Missouri runners were 40 to 50 seconds ahead of the Cyclones’ lead pack.

Joe Lynn, coach of the Missouri Tigers’ men and women’s cross-country teams, said it was part of his teams’ strategy to “get out fast,” but overall he just wanted to see the team “get a great workout, run tough and come out healthy.”

Lynn said Missouri is probably returning again next year to the race.

“It’s a great meet and a great course,” Lynn said.

For the Cyclones, Hartke said he thinks Iowa State’s teams made some progress. 

“We made steps in the positive in a lot of places today,” Hartke said of both the men and women’s teams. “Some people ran really well and can get confidence out of it, and honestly some people can learn a lot from it.”

The ISU cross-country team’s next race will be the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 29 in Falcon Heights, Minn.