ISU women’s cross country ties best performance ever at NCAA Championships


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

Kyle Heim

With a second place performance at NCAA Championships, the ISU women’s cross country team finished the season the same way they began it — in a pack. 

Iowa State’s second-place finish in the standings tied its best performance in program history at the Championships. The team finished with 147 points, second to Michigan State’s 85 points. 

Junior Crystal Nelson and redshirt senior Katy Moen once again led the top pack for the Cyclones. Nelson and Moen finished back-to-back, placing seventh and eighth overall respectively. 

“Definitely, the pace went hard,” Nelson said. “I could definitely feel it. But, it was comforting knowing [Moen] was right there. I heard everyone saying, ‘Come on Crystal, come on Katy,’ so it was nice to know she was right there with me. It definitely helped relax both of us.”

Nelson and Moen’s performances marked the first time in the program’s history that two runners placed inside the top 10 at the NCAAs. The duo ran to the fifth and sixth fastest times in school history, crossing with times of 20 minutes, 8.5 seconds and 20:10.5.

Nelson earned All-American recognition for the second straight season, while Moen became an All-American for the first time in her career. Nelson improved 25 spots from her 32nd-place performance in 2013. 

Moen and Nelson weren’t the only ISU runners forming a pack at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind. Sophomore Perez Rotich and graduate student Margaret Connelly posted identical times of 20:58.6 and finished 65th and 66th. 

Moen capped her ISU cross country career with five consecutive top-10 performances. Connelly also ended her cross country career for Iowa State.

“I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better than being a podium team,” Moen said. “And being an All-American is also great and a dream that I’ve always had as well. Top 10, even better.” 

Connelly returned to the course for the first time since the Big 12 Championships on Nov. 1, where she finished fourth overall.

Sophomore Bethanie Brown returned to action for the first time since the Roy Griak Invitational. Brown finished 53rd overall at the NCAA Championships and third for the Cyclones in scoring.

Redshirt freshman Erin Hooker and sophomore Heidi Engelhardt made their first NCAA Championship appearances, finishing 180th and 207th.

Iowa State improved 11 spots from last year’s 13th-place performance and reached the podium for the first time since 1985.

Leading up to this year’s championship meet, ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough said it wouldn’t take anything special from her team in order to finish high, and in the end, consistency was key in the team’s performance.