Notebook: Cyclones aim continue momentum ahead of Big 12 Championships

Wesley Kiptoo celebrates after winning the individual Big 12 title at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships on Friday. (Photo credit: Denny Medley/Random Photography)

Ellie Bousson

It’s a monumental weekend for the Iowa State cross country program.

The men’s and women’s teams are heading to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the Big 12 Championship held at the Oklahoma State Cross Country Course. The men will be competing in a 8,000m race beginning at 10 a.m. and the women will be running a 6,000m race at 11 a.m. 

Last year, the men’s team had an unfavorable outcome at the Big 12 Championship after tying with Oklahoma State University with 31 points but ultimately missed the mark due to a tiebreaker rule.

And the Cyclones want to take control this time.

Iowa State recently surpassed Oklahoma State in the rankings, putting the Cyclones at No. 2 in the country and the Cowboys at No. 5. The Cowboys had been ranked higher than the Cyclones all season. 

For the women’s squad, the Cyclones took home the 2020 Big 12 Championship title for the eighth time in the last 10 years and are eager to do it again. Senior Cailie Logue has always been a vital aspect to the success of the team. Last year Logue took home her third Big 12 title, being the second to ever do so. 

Sudbury says it’s a Two-Team Race 

Unlike many other team sports, the Iowa State men’s team has only completed two races before the Big 12 this weekend. Iowa State Cross Country and Track and Field Director Jeremy Sudbury is excited to get the weekend started in Oklahoma.

Sudbury expressed how there is a lot of weight held towards the end of the season, with the Big 12, then Regionals and then the National Championship within the span of 21 days.

“A lot of times our regular season meets are more about preparation and making sure we have all the pieces in the right place. It’s all about this weekend and with that in mind, we talk a lot about setting ourselves up for this part of the year,” Sudbury said. 

After a tough finish at the 2020 Big 12 Championship, Sudbury and the Cyclones are determined to take back the title. 

“We won the last four conference titles and last year we tied, this year we want to win and not tie,” Sudbury said. 

The Cyclones have been focusing on getting to this point within the season. Sudbury said Oklahoma State is going to be Iowa State’s toughest competition at the meet. And Sudbury is confident it will come down to the Cyclones and the Cowboys at the Big 12. 

“For us to go down there and square off with them heads up, it’s going to be a two-team race. Texas isn’t bad but I think Iowa State and Oklahoma State have separated this year,” Sudbury said. 

Sudbury was pleased with the performance of his runners last year, but knew there were areas that needed improvement. 

“We felt that we ran pretty well last fall in the Big 12 Championship, but we just couldn’t get the job done that day. This year we are definitely aware of the intimacy of the big 12 meet … it is going to be a close score … we’re ready, I think even more than ever,” Sudbury said.

Junior Wesley Kiptoo has led the men’s team in many races throughout the past three years. Kiptoo is coming into this weekend with a first place win at the Nuttycombe Invite and second place finish at the Roy Griak Invite. Kiptoo took home the Big 12 title last year, beating his OSU opponent by 14 seconds. 

Sudbury said Kiptoo has been focusing on tactics throughout the season. 

“Last year he came right in and basically never lost. With Wesley, he and I have been able to connect and identify how we can get to another level and work a little behind the scenes tactically,” Sudbury said.

Starting with a Smile 

Iowa State associate women’s cross country coach Amy Rudolph shared goals that her team made in the beginning of the season.

Besides winning races, Rudolph said the team wanted to make the most of every meet and stand on the starting line with a smile.

“We have each other as a team and it says a lot about them and how much fun they are having. You really have to be having fun at this level or otherwise it’s going to be a grind and they have definitely carried that throughout the weekend,” Rudolph said. 

To defend the Big 12 title, Rudolph said it is going to take everyone’s best effort, demanding that everyone do their job. 

“We are probably going to need someone to step up on the day. We have all the pieces, we just need to put them in place,” Rudolph said. 

Rudolph said that in order to do well, at any time in the season, athletes have to be able to step up and help when someone is having an off-day. The team has been fortunate to have a lot of depth to their team, they are able to move runners around when needed.