ISU women’s cross country hopes for bid to nationals and injury-free escape at regionals


Junior Crystal Nelson and redshirt senior Katy Moen lead the pack at the Big 12 Championships on Nov. 1.

Kyle Heim

The agenda at the NCAA Midwest Regional is simple for the ISU women’s cross country team: get in and get out.

On Nov. 14 marks the fifth and second-to-last event of the season for Iowa State. It also forecasts to be the coldest race to date.

“We’re going to try to not let the cold affect us at all,” said junior Crystal Nelson. “A lot of us will wear more layers, everything that will keep us warm. We’ll probably stay on the bus for as long as possible to stay warm for as long as possible, but we’ll try to keep it out of our minds.”

For the first time since the Drake Bulldog Classic on Aug. 29, Iowa State will be running without Nelson. ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough said the decision to deactivate Nelson was to make sure she is 100 percent for the NCAA Championships which will take place on Nov. 22.

Another top runner on the team, sophomore Bethanie Brown, will also rest for the third straight competition this year. Grove-McDonough said Brown is in great shape and that she will be ready to run at nationals.

“We’re really just making a statement about how important the national meet is to us,” Grove-McDonough said. “We’re going to take our chances at the regional meet in terms of maybe not winning the thing. Our intention all year has been win the Big 12 title and then go into the NCAAs and do something special with this team.”

Without Nelson leading the pack, Iowa State will rely on redshirt senior Katy Moen and graduate Margaret Connelly to pave the path for the team in Peoria, Ill. on Nov. 14.

“We’ll go into regionals and get our qualifier out of the way,” Grove-McDonough said. “The girls are going to have to be more aware of where they are, and we’re going to have to ask on Katy and Margaret to lead the team out there. We’re trying to run as easy as possible too because we only have seven days of recovery.”

In order to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, Iowa State will need to finish inside the top-two at Regionals. Another opportunity the Cyclones have to earn an invite to Nationals is by receiving an at-large bid. At-large bids are determined by how many wins a team has against the automatic qualifiers at Nationals.

Despite a five-year regional championship streak on the line, Iowa State’s focus remains on only one goal, contending for a national title in Terre Haute, Ind.

“We need to continue to work together and work off of each other,” Hooker said. “These last few meets we’ve been really successful, so we’re not changing much.”