CC strides into Big 12 Championships

Mark Pawlak

The ISU men’s and women’s cross country squads will be competing Saturday in the Big 12 Championships in Norman, Okla.

Both squads may not be in the running for the team championships, but will each have individuals that will be looking to gain all-conference status.

For the men’s team, Mike Mwangong is poised to turn in a top finish in the 8K race.

Mwangong finished 9th in the championships two years ago and has performed well this season finishing 14th at the Chile Pepper Festival and 29th in the Roy Griak Invitational.

For Mwangong to regain all-conference honors, he will have to turn in a top nine finish Saturday.

In the team race, head coach Kevin Bourke hopes the Cyclones will be able to turn in a solid finish.

“We made some really good progress from the first meet to the second meet. This is only our third meet of the season,” Bourke said.

If they are able to show the same improvement from their second race to the race Saturday, Bourke believes the Cyclones can compete well in Norman.

“We have a chance to be in the upper division,” he said.

Bourke said nationally-ranked number one Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma State will be the teams to watch.

On the other side, women’s head coach Dick Lee will be taking a shorthanded squad down to the championships.

His squad will be missing at least two of his top four runners as Jessica Huff and Cara Van Eck will not be competing in the 6K race because of injuries.

Kelly Brinkman turned in a fourth place finish last season, but Lee said she is questionable to run in the championships because of an illness.

Not being able to field a full squad has hampered Iowa State all season.

“We started the season thinking we could finish in the top three or four in the conference,” Lee said. “Now that is not a realistic goal for us.”

Lee said Colorado will be the meet’s favorite with Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas A&M challenging.

Iowa State is hoping to finish with a high placing at the meet, but they know they’ve already succeeded in one area – the classroom.

Several Cyclones have earned Academic All-Big 12 honors.

Earning first-team honors were Andrea Crapisi, Monica Erickson, Vicky Warner, Debra Wray and Brinkman from the women’s squad. Craig Cartier, Peter Hess and Corey Ylinen earned first-team honors from the men’s team. To make the first team a student athlete must have a grade point average of 3.2 or higher.

Van Eck earned second-team status by having a 3.0 to 3.19 GPA.