Women’s cross country building momentum

Mark Pawlak

The 2001 ISU women’s cross country team may start slow, but will be building up to the end of the season.

“We have a good group of returning runners, but we have a couple people that are banged up just a little bit or that are coming back from injuries,” head coach Dick Lee said.

“Our front seven is not at 100 percent on the physical side. We’re waiting to see what happens over the next couple of weeks with a couple of kids on how rapid their recovery is. That will determine a lot as far as what we can accomplish for our team goals.”

Junior Kelly Brinkman will be the Cyclones’ top returning runner.

Brinkman was the only ISU woman to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships last year after taking fourth place at the NCAA Midwest Regional meet.

In the championships, Brinkman came away with a 62nd finish out of 252 competitors.

“She’s definitely our top returner,” Lee said. “Hopefully, our team has a shot at qualifying for nationals this year, if not, she definitely should be making a return trip to nationals.”

Lee said he wants to see his squad improve over the course of the year.

“We’re not concerned with being in great racing shape right now,” Lee said. “We want to be able to build and be peaking in the end of October and into November. That’s when the biggest meets of the season are.”

Juniors Jessica Huff and Cara Van Eck and sophomore Monica Erickson are other returners that will be top runners.

Lee said Van Eck is in the best shape she has ever been in for cross country, and Erickson is starting the year ahead of where she was last year.

The recovery of senior Andrea Crapisi from anemia will also bolster the Cyclones’ ranks.

“Andrea Crapisi was our top returner going into last year and then was sick the whole season,” Lee said. “She’s one who’s going to take the course of the season to get back to that point of being one of our top kids.”

Of the five freshmen coming into the program, Lee said Kat Thomas is one who will contribute down the road.

In the Big 12, Colorado looks to be the class of the conference, followed by Texas A&M.

“After that, it is wide open. Missouri, Nebraska, ourselves and Kansas State are contending for the next spot,” Lee said.

Iowa State starts the season Friday when they host the ISU Open at 5 p.m.

“It gives the coaches a chance to see at what fitness level our kids are in. It’s kind of a measuring point of what we need to work on,” Lee said.