ISU cross country works to improve team effort

Mark Pawlak

The ISU men’s and women’s cross country teams had a learning experience at the Roy Griak Invitational Saturday.

In their first scored competition of the season, the men’s and women’s teams each finished in the back of the field as a team.

Individually, Mike Mwangong and Kelly Brinkman turned in solid performances.

The men’s squad finished 31st out of 36 teams.

“Not having a race under our belt definitely hurt us.It’s a little hard to swallow,” head coach Kevin Bourke said of his team’s performance.

Mwangong led the Cyclones by placing 29th out of 311 runners, finishing the 8K course in 24:50.

For junior Mwangong, it was his highest finish in ISU’s annual trip to the invitational hosted by the University of Minnesota.

Bourke said that bodes well for the rest of the season.

“He knows he can run a lot better,” he said.

Competing in his first collegiate race, freshman Ben Fogarty was the second Cyclone to cross the finish line, finishing the course in a time of 25:57 to place 183rd.

Bourke said that Fogarty did well in staying focused during the race.

“He did a really good job,” he said.

The ISU women finished 29th out of the 32 teams competing.

“We did not have a very good meet at all,” head coach Dick Lee said.

Kelly Brinkman was the first to finish for the Cyclones, crossing the finish line 41st out of 300 runners.

Brinkman navigated the 6K course in 21:57.

Brinkman was looking at a top 30 finish until slipping near the end of the race.

“Kelly Brinkman ran fairly well. She was on her way probably to run what we expected, when she slipped and fell coming down a hill with about 1K left,” Lee said. “She lost 10 places or more there and had to regain her momentum to find her way up.”

The next Cyclone to finish was Cara Van Eck, coming in in 134th place in a time of 22:47.

“Cara Van Eck and Monica Erickson ran solid races, but we didn’t respond very well as far as putting together the kind of race you need against that level of competition,” Lee said. “The kids were disappointed and frustrated afterwards.”

Running with over 300 runners, it could be easy to get stuck in a crowd, Lee said. “This was the biggest meet as far as number of teams and individuals that we’ll see all year. Sometimes you can get caught up in the crowd and you don’t respond really well to that.”

Both the men’s and women’s cross country squads will compete next Saturday, Oct. 13 in the Chili Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ariz.