One goal in mind: Cross Country competes at NCAA Championships

The Iowa State men’s cross country team runs in the 2021 Big 12 Cross Country Championships on Oct. 29 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (Photo courtesy of Iowa State Athletics)

Presley Polvere

It all comes down to this. The Iowa State men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in the NCAA National Cross Country Championships on Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla. 

The women’s team will be up against the likes of North Carolina State and the defending national champions BYU. The team is ranked 10th nationally.

Over the years, there has been a shift in the women’s program. The team has climbed up the Big 12 and national rankings to get to this point.

“We started off freshman year in one spot and we were fourth in the Big 12,” junior Dana Feyen said. “To come this year and be second in the Big 12 and qualify for the NCAA meet and have goals, not just to qualify but to compete, is huge and special to be a part of.” 

However, this shift into the higher half of the rankings is only a piece of it. The women are looking to actively compete at the national championships after surpassing another one of their goals. 

“I think the team is very much unified and working together on a lot of things,” senior Cailie Logue said. “And that’s part of why the season has been so much fun. They’re really excited and everyone has this one goal in mind that we really want to accomplish.”

This mentality of having fun makes room for opportunity.

The Cyclone women are actively having fun and reaching their goals which allows them to be the women and student-athletes they want to be. 

“It’s a very, very special group of ladies that have given everything for this moment,” Head Coach Amy Rudolph said. “They deserve to have success and I’m very proud of them. They make my job easy […] it’s fun to come to work everyday.” 

The men’s team will be up against the likes of Oklahoma State and the defending national champions in Northern Arizona. 

The Cyclones are ranked No.6 in the nation. However, rankings are not what defines this team.

After last year, when the NCAA National Championships were pushed back until March, the Cyclones tweaked a lot to the program as a whole and themselves as runners. 

“Everyone’s been training and racing at a new level so that’s just been exciting to see,” senior Thomas Pollard said. “Everyone’s been developing and becoming closer to the best version of themselves.” 

With new program leadership in Director and Head Coach Jeremy Sudbury, there’s both an emphasis on athletic and personal development.

Athletic and personal development are two things that coupled together help the championship effort and growth of the runners as athletes and people. 

“We have a pretty cool culture right now,” Head Coach Jeremy Sudbury said. “We have quite a few athletes from the Midwest and we have a couple athletes from overseas in Kenya. And just that blend of diversity is pretty cool.”

The team has also taken a different approach to success: having fun. The team has not only had fun out running but getting to know each other when practice is done for the day.  

“I think our team this year has really loosened up and they’ve been able to kind of show their personality and I think that comes from confidence and athletes that have been a part of the program for a while… we’ve done a lot of team building activities that have shown when we race,” Sudbury said. 

The women’s race will begin at 9:20 a.m. CST and the men’s race will begin at 10:10 a.m. CST.