Cyclones ready for Big 12 race

Caitlyn Diimig

The ISU men’s and women’s cross-country teams will be competing in the Big 12 Championships in College Station, Texas, on Saturday.

After placing third for the past two years, the women’s team is a contender for the championship title and the individual title as well.

“We’ve got three young ladies that have a chance at the individual title, but in all reality I don’t think any of them really care,” said coach Corey Ihmels. “They could be third, fourth, and fifth, and if we win the team title they’ll be happy.”

Seniors Dani Stack and Meaghan Nelson and junior Betsy Saina have consistently been the top three scorers for Iowa State.

“I would be so excited if we have the three of us in the top seven,” Saina said.

Saina placed second last year with a time of 20:18.55 for the 6,000-meter course.

Saina said no other team has three girls as fast as Stack, Nelson and herself, but does believe there is a chance for Texas to sneak in its five fastest women between Iowa State’s third and fourth runners, making it a close race.

“You don’t want to lose a conference title over a couple of points,” Ihmels said. “But that’s maybe what it might be this weekend.”

With Colorado leaving the Big 12 for Pac-12 last July, the Cyclones will have an even better shot at winning the title. Last year, Colorado took second place, while Texas Tech took first.

“Tech’s not maybe as potent as they have been the last couple of years,” Ihmels said.

The men’s team is also looking for redemption from last year’s meet, in which it placed fifth.

Its most recent bottom-half finish — 29th out of 39 teams — at the Wisconsin Adidas Invite on Oct. 14.

“I think we’ve got a shot to do better than fifth,” Ihmels said. “Obviously we always want to be in the top half.”

Ihmels said sophomore Martin Coolidge and senior Rico Loy need to place in the top 10 in order to out-do last year’s finish.

“Me and Marty [Coolidge] have to run together again,” Loy said.

At the Wisconsin Invite, Loy and Coolidge were leading for Iowa State together until the 5,000-meter mark in which Loy was said to have dropped back.

Coolidge placed 28th while Loy ended up placing 107th.

“I for sure need to stay more focused; fight more through it,” Loy said. “And maybe start out a little easier.”

The men’s team also needs more points to qualify for nationals. Ihmels said beating Texas A&M, which may qualify for nationals through regionals, will help Iowa State gain points.