Teams make progress at Chile Pepper Festival

Mark Pawlak

The ISU men’s and women’s cross country teams each showed improvement at Saturday’s Chile Pepper Festival hosted by the University of Arkansas.

The men finished in the upper half of the field, placing 14th out of the 28 teams competing.

Their performance was an improvement from their showing two weeks earlier at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, head coach Kevin Bourke said.

“I was really pleased with how we competed this time opposed to our meet in Minneapolis.

“Being in the upper half of this field is a pretty positive step,” Bourke said. “I was really pleased with how all our guys competed. We ran much, much better than we did two weeks ago.”

Mike Mwangong was the top finisher for the Cyclones, finishing the 10K race in 30:48 to place 14th out of 238 runners.

“Mike finished 14th overall in a really good field. He’s running really, really well right now,” Bourke said.

Ben Fogarty was the next ISU runner to cross the finish line, placing 76th in 32:21. Peter Hess competed the course in 32:24 to come in 83rd place.

The women’s squad finished 18th out of the 27 teams competing.

Head coach Dick Lee said they were shorthanded at the meet as several of their top runners did not compete or missed practice time before the festival.

Cara Van Eck did not run due to a hip injury, and Kelly Brinkman missed a few days of training.

Lee also saw an improvement in his team’s performance from its last competition.

“Everybody improved their times and efforts from the meet at Minnesota, so that’s a positive step,” Lee said.

Brinkman was the first Cyclone to finish on the women’s side, competing the 6K course in 22:08 to place 14th out of 240 runners. She was followed by Monica Erickson, who finished 48th in 22:46.

Erickson ran a solid race, Lee said.

“She’s one as the season progresses [who] always runs better and better, and she’s a big meet runner,” Lee said. “I know she’ll run much better than this at the conference and regional meets. It was a good, solid race for her.”

The next competition for Iowa State is the Big 12 Championships Oct. 27 in Norman, Okla.

“We’re going to do the best we can to finish as high as we possibly can,” Bourke said. “We definitely made some progress this weekend.”

For the women’s squad, Lee doesn’t know who he will have available to run.

“When we know what our top five looks like, we’ll be able to point a little more as to what teams to beat will be our goal,” Lee said.