Team set to outdo last year’s national finish


Photo:Kendra Plathe/Iowa State Daily

Junior Meaghan Nelson and senior Dani Stack run laps during cross-country practice at Lied Recreation Athletic Center on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Nelson finished second in the Big 12 Conference 6,000-meter race with a time of 19:33.80 while Stack finished sixth, both earning All-Big 12 honors. 

Caitlyn Diimig

It ended 200 meters from the finish line.

Senior Dani Stack collapsed during the 2010 NCAA National Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.

“With 200 to go, I had nothing left,” Stack said.

After trying to stand up and finish, Stack said she tried to crawl to the finish line, but didn’t have the energy.

She told race officials she was done and her father jumped over the fence, picked her up and carried her off the course.

“There was a lot of tears shed,” said coach Corey Ihmels. “You can either feel sorry for yourself or get back on the horse and be better and I think she’s done that.”

After a disappointing cross-country finish, Stack focused on the track season, gaining her confidence back after placing fourth in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field 10,000-meter Championship race.

Stack has continued her success, placing seventh at regionals and sixth at the Big 12 Championships, but hopes to peak at nationals.

“I don’t think I’ve had the race yet where I feel like all my abilities and all my physical fitness has been shown yet,” Stack said.

Stack is hoping for a top 20 finish in the race along with juniors Meaghan Nelson and Betsy Saina.

Ihmels said even a top 10 finish for Stack, Nelson and Saina is possible.

“They’re going to have to run a great race, run a smart race,” Ihmels said. “But they’re capable of it.”

Ihmels said it is possible Iowa State will leave the meet with four All-Americans in Stack, Nelson, Saina and sophomore Morgan Casey.

Casey said she’s unsure if placing in the top 40 is likely, but will try to place as high as possible.

“I’m not entirely sure what to expect out of myself,” Casey said. “Although I think I’m probably going to surprise myself a little bit.”

Casey finished seven seconds behind Stack at regionals and said she is trying to step it up for the team since it will be losing Stack next year.

“She’s going to leave some huge shoes to fill,” Casey said.

Ihmels said not finishing higher than last year’s eighth-place finish will disappoint the team, but believes a top five finish at nationals is within reach this Monday in Terre Haute, Ind.

The team is currently ranked seventh in the nation.

Stack said the memory of last year’s race is still in the back of her mind, but she doesn’t feel as much pressure.

“I think we’re a dark horse in a way,” Stack said. “No one’s really expecting us to do that well, but I think that progressively we’ve been showing that we’re getting better and better every race.”