Time to ‘leaf’ it all on the course


Courtesy of the Iowa State Athletic Department

Iowa State runners compete at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships in Lubbock, Texas, on Oct. 30, 2016. Iowa State took second place. 

Maggie Davis

In 1990, eight trees were planted along the start line of the Iowa State cross country course by the Iowa State University Forestry Club. 

It marked the partnership between the club and the cross country teams to maintain the course. 

1990 was also the last time the men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the conference championship. 

Twenty-seven years later, the Forestry Club is back out preparing the course for the 2017 Midwest Regional qualifying meet, two weeks after the Cyclones swept the Big 12 Conference Championships. 

Men’s assistant cross country coach Jeremy Sudbury was out on the course preparing it for the race, resulting in dirty hands and a pair of work boots, rather than running shoes.

“Shoutout to the Iowa State Forestry Club,” Sudbury said. “For the last five weeks every weekend they’ve been deforesting, raking, and getting the course ready. It’s a great partnership with Dr. [Joe] Colletti.”

Colletti is the senior associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 

While the Forestry Club has been hard at work on the race course, the men’s cross country team has been preparing for the race to take place on Nov. 10 in Ames. 

“This is an opportunity to protect our house,” Sudbury said of hosting the regional qualifier. “This is a sport where you don’t get to compete at home very often.” 

Both the men and women are coming off team wins at the Big 12 Conference Championships on Oct. 28. The women are now back-to-back title holders, and the men took home their first title since 1994. 

“It’s a 23 year gap since the last time they [the men] won,” Sudbury said. “That’s older than all the guys on the team.” 

The men snagged the title from Oklahoma State by a single point. 

Sudbury described how the guys got out from the gun and took control of the race. He said they looked good running and stepped up and got the job done. 

Sudbury also described the 15-20 minutes after the race while the team waited for the final results. 

“It was a moment where we were excited, but we knew we hadn’t achieved our full potential yet,” Sudbury said. 

Sudbury and the team are far from satisfied and rather than dwelling on their conference success, the team is remaining focused on Friday’s opportunity to qualify for the national championship. 

The men have had a season of ups and downs, missing a meet due to illness in late September and not performing well at their last regular season meet in Wisconsin in mid-October. 

Due to the inconsistent regular season, the Cyclones need to grab an automatic qualifying spot and finish top two as a team, rather than leave their national championship hopes up to the chance of the “at-large” points system. 

Oklahoma State, coming off their first conference title loss in nine years, will be a tough competitor at the regional meet. The Cowboys are in the same boat as the Cyclones in needing to finish top two as a team and get an automatic qualifying spot. Other top teams attending the qualifier will be Minnesota, Tulsa and Illinois.  

With the help of community student effort in conjunction with Iowa State’s Forestry Club, the cross country course has been readied to hold a showdown in notoriously cold Iowa temperatures on Friday as team’s race for a spot at the NCAA National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky on Nov. 18. 

The women’s race begins at 10:45 a.m., with the men set to run at 11:45 a.m.

“By no means will it be an easy day,” Sudbury said. “It will be a tough battle to the end.”