Women’s cross country aims for fourth consecutive Big 12 title


Crystal Nelson, left, races to a third-place finish at last year’s Roy Griak Invitational.

Kyle Heim

ISU women’s cross country has had plenty things to celebrate at the Big 12 Championships in recent years, but a fourth-straight conference title could lead to the sweetest celebration yet.

Three Big 12 trophies have found their way to Iowa State over the past three seasons, but not a single one has been filled with ice cream. That could all change this year.

Redshirt senior Katy Moen has competed in the past three conference championships for Iowa State. She said as a redshirt freshman, the team imagined eating ice cream and cereal out of their bowl of victory.

“I remember our excitement,” Moen said. “I didn’t contribute to the team points but I remember the cool down and running around the course and saying, ‘we’re Big 12 champs’. ”

When asked about using the trophy as a dining utility this year, ISU coach Andrea-Grove McDonough said she was “all in” on the idea.

“I hope we have [the trophy], in which case we could eat anything out of it,” Grove-McDonough said. “Rocky road, chocolate chip cookie dough…whatever they want. I’ll buy the ice cream.”

Before the team has the opportunity to dine from the Big 12 trophy, they need to defeat their Big 12 opponents, including No. 9 West Virginia.

Iowa State placed ahead of West Virginia at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational but this time around there will be fewer teams and fewer opportunities for separation from Iowa State’s top runners.

“When you go to a much smaller field like the Big 12 championships it gets a lot more complicated,” Grove-McDonough said. “[West Virginia’s] four and five runners were ahead of our four and five. Even if we can put two runners in front of their number one like we did at Wisconsin, that may only give us two extra points.”

The strategy for Grove-McDonough’s squad is for the team to stock West Virginia and out-run them during the finishing stretch.

Three runners will make their Big 12 Championship debuts for the Cyclones on Nov. 1, including graduate student Margaret Connelly.

“I’ll probably treat it similarly to how I approached the Ivy League Championships,” Connelly said. “It’s a lot of energy and it’s different from the postseason races. We’ll just approach it the same way and listen to the coaches.”

Unlike the past two invitationals, the goal for the team at the Big 12 Championship is to win the event.

Grove-McDonough said she thinks this year’s race will be a lot closer than the one they ran away with a year ago, but in the end believes it will come down to Iowa State and West Virginia.

“We have the athletes that should be able to win this title,” Grove-McDonough said. “I don’t care how we do it. I don’t care if we win by a little or a lot. They have no other option.”

The championships begin at 10 a.m. on Nov. 1 in Lawrence, Kansas.