Four top-10 performances spur Iowa State to fourth consecutive Big 12 Title


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

Kyle Heim

Nov. 1 proved to be too chilly for ice cream, but not too cold to slow the ISU women’s cross country team’s pursuit of their fourth consecutive Big 12 Championship.

Iowa State has battled through rain, heat and now frost in three events this season. Despite unstable weather patterns, the team has yet to show signs of inconsistency.

The consistent performances of junior Crystal Nelson, redshirt senior Katy Moen and graduate student Margaret Connelly continued, as the trio finished first, second and fourth, respectively, at the Big 12 Championships.

“The race felt smooth and in control,” Connelly said. “I wanted to finish in the top 10 and I was there pretty early on. I tried to stay relaxed and run my own race. A couple girls came back to me on some of the hills, so that kind of worked in my favor.”

Along with a top-five performance, Connelly also earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. She was the third ISU runner to receive the award in as many years. Nelson won it in 2012 and sophomore Bethanie Brown in 2013.

While the top pieces of the puzzle have been in place since the start of the season, the four and five pieces also have begun to fill in.

Redshirt freshman Erin Hooker and sophomore Perez Rotich recorded their best performances of the season finishing ninth and 13th, respectively.

“Erin Hooker was a rock star today,” said ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonoughcq. “Perez had the best race she’s had. This was [Hooker’s] third competition of her entire collegiate career, and she’s gotten better every time out. We felt confident she was ready to go and Perez too. The practices have been good, so we just knew it would it click.”

Iowa State seems to have hit their stride, but as Grove-McDonough has said in the past, the team’s performance at the NCAA Championship in Terre Haute, Ind., is ultimately how it will be judged.

Next on the schedule for the Cyclones is the NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 14 in Peoria, Ill. Grove-McDonough said the focus for the team is to stay injury free.

“Our biggest priority now is keeping the ladies healthy and making sure we get them to Terre Haute healthy,” Grove-McDonough said. “For regionals, we’re not planning to run that too hard. We’re going to back off that one and take it easy. We still have a little work to do, sharpen up and get ready for nationals.”

Men’s team takes third at Championships

The ISU men’s cross country team finished third at the Big 12 Championships, tying their third-highest performance at the event.

Freshman Dan Curtis recorded the team’s only top-10 performance at the Championships, finishing 10th. Curtis was the top freshman to complete the race among a field of 81 runners.

Curtis and senior Martin Coolidge earned All-Big 12 performances and helped the Cyclones displace No. 28 Texas.

Iowa State will have an opportunity to secure their first bid to the NCAA Championships since 2009 at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 14.