Cross country teams wilt in heat at Big 12 Conference meet

Grant Wall

After battling illness during the NCAA Pre-Meet two weeks ago, the ISU men’s and women’s cross country teams ran into another unexpected hurdle at the Big 12 Conference meet Friday in Spicewood, Texas.

With temperatures in the 80s and the humidity soaring, both Cyclone teams floundered, with each team finishing in 11th place.

“It was hot out there and humid,” men’s head coach Corey Ihmels said. “It wasn’t great conditions for cross country teams from the north.”

Once again this week, the women’s team was hit hardest by the drastic change in weather.

At the Pre-Meet, three of the top Cyclone runners didn’t turn in top performances because of illness. Friday, once again, several Cyclones had trouble during the race.

Jenny Mockler, Karen McCormick and Lindsey Nye were unable to complete the race, and Mockler was taken to the emergency room. All three were treated for dehydration and heat exhaustion.

“It’s very fitting that [this race] was on Halloween,” women’s coach Dick Lee said. “We had our share of horrors.

“It’s was scary with kids going down from dehydration and heat exhaustion issues. What happened race-wise is secondary to [their] general health. Thankfully, we all made it home [Friday night] and everyone is feeling better.”

Jessica Huff led Iowa State across the finish line, finishing her 6,000-meter race in 24th place out of 92 competitors with a time of 22:44.

“Jessica had a solid race,” Lee said of his senior leader. “We ran solid and looked good at times. Everyone in the meet had slower times in this meet than in the last couple meets they’ve run. It wasn’t that the course was that difficult — it was challenging, but not that challenging. The heat affected everyone.”

Lee said the Cyclones gained a minor victory by topping Oklahoma State in the team standings.

“We lost three kids but still beat one team,” Lee said. “Had those [who dropped out] finished respectably, we would have been in the hunt for around eighth place.”

The next ISU finisher was freshman Amanda Ganser, who placed 69th. She was followed by senior Lacey Leinbaugh (77th place), junior Monica Erickson (80th) and freshman Meredith McKean (86th).

While the men’s team didn’t face the heat-related problems encountered by the women, the Cyclones’ performances were still far from satisfactory, Ihmels said.

“We didn’t run well,” Ihmels said. “We really struggled.

“I was hoping for a couple guys to step up and they didn’t. I’m very disappointed. I was looking for a couple guys to step up and put it on the line and train hard. I’m looking for two or three guys who will pay the price to be good, and right now we don’t have that.”

Sophomore Dan Taylor finished 28th for the men out of 91 runners on the 8,000-meter course, crossing the finish line with a time of 25:48.

“Dan had a good run and competed hard,” Ihmels said. “He was consistent this weekend; he ran hard and is looking good.”

Senior Chris Francois finished second for Iowa State and 57th overall, clocking a time of 26:54. He was followed by freshman Kyle Rasmussen (61st), junior Corey Ylinen (78th), junior Craig Cartier (84th) and freshman Ricky Reusser (85th). “We’re at a crossroads (as a program),” Ihmels said. “I didn’t take this job to finish 11th, we want to be competitive. We need to be better runners and better prepared and that’s what we can take away [from Friday’s meet]. What the guys decide to do with it is the big question.

“The guys got out and ran in good position for the first three kilometers [of the eight-kilometer race]. We then made a choice not to get out and compete hard, and that shows in the standings at the end of the day.”

Iowa State’s final regularly scheduled meet is the NCAA Regionals Nov. 15 in Stillwater, Okla. The Cyclones will attempt to qualify runners for the NCAA Championships Nov. 24 in Waterloo.