Women gain success in 2011 season, men move forward

Caitlyn Diimig

The score sheet read “DNF.”

During the 2010 cross-country season, Dani Stack collapsed 200 meters from the finish line and was labeled as “Did Not Finish” on the NCAA National Championship official timesheet.

“It wasn’t all bright lights and fun,” said coach Corey Ihmels. “There were some times where there was a little bit of despair.”

Ihmels said Stack’s focus and commitment led her to battle back and place 30th at nationals, receiving All-American honors this season.

“I’m proud of her perseverance and what she’s accomplished and who she is,” Ihmels said.

This year, juniors Betsy Saina and Meaghan Nelson crossed the finish line in ninth and 17th, receiving All-American honors as well, and leading the ISU women’s cross-country team to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.

“I’m pretty happy with it because I actually got to participate,” Nelson said.

Nelson was unable to compete during the 2010 season due to stress fractures.

With Nelson healthy again, the women earned Big 12 and Regional titles, and were just nine points from a fifth-place finish at nationals.

The women’s team is losing Stack and India Lee, but Ihmels said next year Nelson and Saina will continue to be leaders for the team. He expects other runners to step up as well.

“I discovered that I have a little more potential than what I thought did,” said sophomore Morgan Casey. “After a track season and an entire summer to run and develop individually, I’ll be able to contribute and hopefully try to step up and finish where Dani did at nationals.”

Casey finished 104th at the national race.

Ihmels said there has always been an athlete to step up and said their commitment usually inspires other runners to be a leader as well.

“Without Lisa Koll, we don’t have Dani Stack. Without Dani Stack, we don’t have Meaghan Nelson. Without Meaghan Nelson, we’re not going to have the next person,” Ihmels said. “And there will be a next person.”

The men’s team was unable to qualify for nationals and finished the season placing sixth at regionals, but has hopes for next year.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to get back to nationals and be a top 20 team,” Ihmels said.

Much like the women’s team, Ihmels expects men on the team to step up and try to be their best. The men’s team is young and only losing one runner in senior Rico Loy.

Both teams are currently training for the indoor track and field season.