Women ranked top 10 nationally; teams prepare for first meet

Caitlyn Diimig

The women’s cross country team has been ranked first in the Midwest region and No. 10 in the nation by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

“I don’t know if we should really be ranked first at this moment in time,” said assistant coach Travis Hartke. “I think in the end, we probably will be and merit that ranking, but at this point in time I don’t know if that’s deserving.”

Last year, the team placed eighth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

“I think we have our sights set a little bit higher than that, but I guess it’s still a good way to start the season,” said junior Meaghan Nelson.

The men’s preseason USTFCCCA ranking was sixth place in the Midwest region. They were unranked at the national level.

“I think it’s disappointing not to be ranked on the men’s side, but I think that’s where we’re at,” said coach Corey Ihmels.

Hartke felt the ranking for the men was also low, but understood the probable reasons.

“If you look on our roster those guys are a lot of guys who haven’t really done anything at the conference level in cross country and at the regional level of cross country and we have a lot of inexperience,” he said. “It probably makes sense for us to be ranked that low.”

The men’s and women’s cross country teams will undergo their first race on Friday, Sept. 2 at the Drake Invite against both Northern Iowa and Drake University teams.

The starting line-up for both ISU teams will consist of predominately redshirt freshmen, as the race is not a competitive one for the top-ranked Cyclones.

“It gives some of those kids who haven’t raced in 8 months, haven’t raced in a year for a team, some experience,” Hartke said.

Hartke believes the biggest competitors the Cyclones will face in the Big 12 this year are Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma State’s men’s team was ranked No. 1 nationally by the USTFCCCA. It’s women’s team was ranked No. 26 nationally and second in the Midwest region.

Only the Texas Tech’s women’s team was ranked nationally at 20th place. They placed third at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last year.

“You can only control the controllable,” Nelson said. “If we work as hard as we can, we can be the best we can be and those teams could still be better.”