Cross country teams wait for season debut

Mark Pawlak

The Cyclones’ men’s and women’s cross country teams were scheduled to host the ISU Open today.

Unfortunately, the meet was postponed as a result of the attacks on New York and the nation’s capital.

The meet would have marked the debut of the Cyclones’ freshman class, a return to action for one senior and the beginning of a return to prominence for some veterans.

For the ISU women, Kat Thomas will be the only freshman running on the team this season.

Head coach Dick Lee said he sees Thomas as someone who will be able to step in and help the team down the road.

“She’s a pure distance runner. She’s not a middle distance kid moving up. She’ll be up to race the long distances,” Lee said.

Lee said he will try to keep the pressure off of her for now.

“We’re trying to keep the pressure off of her and wait and see how things go here in the first few weeks,” Lee said.

Thomas, a walk-on, was ready to hit the course today.

“I’m excited. I just expect to do my best,” Thomas said.

Andrea Crapisi will return for her senior season for Lee’s squad.

Crapisi redshirted last fall because of a serious case of anemia.

Crapisi was one of the Cyclones’ top returners going into last season before her illness.

In the ISU Open two years ago, she turned in a third place finish.

Other Cyclones poised to turn in low times will be Monica Erickson, Jessica Huff and Cara Van Eck, in addition to Kelly Brinkman, who will be looking to improve on her fourth place finish in last year’s open.

Craig Cartier is one of a group of freshmen that will be counted on to help the men’s squad this season.

Cartier will be fighting back the nerves of competing in his first collegiate race, as are fellow freshmen Mitch Anderson, Wilson Arusei and Corey Ylinen, but he said his team is ready to get started.

“The guys are looking really solid in practice,” Cartier said. “Hopefully, we can get out there and see what we can do.”

Junior Mike Mwangong is the Cyclones’ top returning runner and finished fifth in last year’s open. Mwangong qualified for the NCAA Championships as a freshman and will be looking for a return trip this season.

Chris Francois, Peter Hess and Dan Reis will be in the lead pack of the Cyclones’ finishers.

Mwangong, Hess and Daniel Kinyua, who has used up his eligibility yet practices with the team, give ISU a good core of leaders, Cartier noted.

“Their leadership has definitely been a benefit,” Cartier said.

The teams that would have come to the open today and given the Cyclones a measuring stick of where they’re at.

ISU men’s head coach Kevin Bourke said the meet wouldn’t have been scored, so it would have allowed the Cyclones to run all of the freshmen unattached.

Bourke said that would have given the coaches an idea of who should be redshirted and who would be ready to compete this season.

“We have some decent teams coming in,” Bourke said before the announcement of the postponement. “Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota State, Emporia State, Drake and ourselves.”

The meet would have given the Cyclones’ some much needed experience going into the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., Sept. 29.

With a lot of other teams already beginning their seasons, Iowa State has fallen behind.

“We start a little bit later. A lot of teams raced last week or the week before,” Lee said.

“The biggest thing is getting that one race under your belt, so that next race isn’t a real shock to the system.”

Unfortunately, Iowa State won’t have a tuneup before the meet in Minneapolis.

“It’s one of the biggest fields we’ll see all year as far as numbers of runners and numbers of teams,” Lee said. “You hate to open up with that.”