ISU women’s cross country sticks to identity in preparation for NCAA Championships


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State

ISU cross-country runner Katy Moen makes her way down a slope during the 6K run during the NCAA Cross-Country National Championships on Nov. 17 at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park. Moen would finish 139th out of the 253 total runners. The ISU team placed 11th as a team.

Kyle Heim

The ISU women’s cross country team will attempt to begin their feasting a little early this holiday season in Terre Haute, Indiana.

While the runners won’t be filling their faces with turkey and stuffing on Nov. 22, they will try to feast on their competition at the NCAA Championship.

Iowa State enters the 2014 Championship ranked No. 5 by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. This year marks the sixth consecutive season that the Cyclones will have competed in the event.

“We all just need to focus on leaving it all out on the course, following the race plan, but knowing it won’t go to par,” said redshirt senior Katy Moen. “No matter how well we plan it, it’s nationals and everything’s up in the air. If we just stay relaxed and focused, and keep the atmosphere light, I think we’ll do great things on Nov.22.”

As the season ends for Iowa State, so will the ISU cross country careers of Moen and graduate student Margaret Connelly.

Moen has risen from a pre-season, non-ranked individual to No. 12 by Flotrak. She finished second for the Cyclones in three of the team’s four events this season and placed first at the Midwest Regional on Nov. 14. Moen and junior Crystal Nelson highlight one of the nation’s best duos.

Connelly has also put together consistent performances throughout the season, finishing as the team’s third or fourth runner at the Griak and Wisconsin Invitationals and the Big 12 Championship.

Connelly didn’t compete at the Midwest Regional and will make her return along with sophomore Bethanie Brown, who hasn’t competed since Sept. 27 at the Griak Invitational. Brown and Connelly highlight the team’s three-four combo.

“My goal is to run hard, run tough and help my team out,” Brown said. Hopefully we can place pretty high, that would be pretty cool.”

The fifth and final scoring spot will boil down between the performances of redshirt freshman Erin Hooker and sophomore Perez Rotich. The two runners crossed the finish line together at the Midwest Regional, tying for 13th overall.

The seventh runner competing at the NCAA Championships for Iowa State is sophomore Heidi Engelhardt. Engelhardt finished fifth for the team at the Regional and 30th overall.

ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough believes her squad is capable of finishing high in the standings without any spectacular finishes from any one individual.

“I don’t think it’s going to take anything special,” Grove-McDonough said. “If they just perform the way they have over the last several weeks, I think that’ll be enough. As long as we go out there and even have a solid day, we’re going to do very, very well.”

Iowa State has focused their racing strategy on forming packs all season, and since runners said they won’t try to change anything now, it wouldn’t be surprising to see herds of cardinal and gold assembling in Terre Haute again on Nov. 22.