Katy Moen continues to lead full of surprises


Suhaib Tawil/Iowa State Daily

Senior Katy Moen presses on toward the finish line on Friday, Nov. 15, during the NCAA Midwest Regional at the ISU Cross-Country Course.

Kyle Heim

After spending four years with the ISU women’s cross country team, redshirt senior Katy Moen continues to embark on a cross country journey full of mystery.

Moen leads a journey that even has ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough scratching her head with uncertainty of the outcome.

But the performances Moen has displayed throughout the course of her ISU career haven’t arrived without prior clues of improvement.

“Katy’s upside is unknown,” Grove-McDonough said. “I don’t actually know how much better she can get. I know she can get better, I just don’t know how much. It seems like it’s wide open, but she’ll be very good when it’s all said and done.”

Moen joined the cross country team in the fall of the 2010-2011 season but instead of jumping into action, she redshirted her freshman year.

“That was the standard,” Moen said. “My freshman year, everyone redshirted except one girl. I don’t think we took advantage of the year to develop. We took it as more of a year to slack off and enjoyed college life more than we should have.”

Moen spent her first three years with the team working with former ISU coach Corey Ihmels, but said she was more than willing to accept Grove-McDonough to Iowa State.

“[Grove-McDonough’s] coaching definitely benefits me more than [Ihmels’] coaching ever did,” Moen said.

Since the change, Moen said the relationships among other runners have strengthened.

“I think dynamically, we’ve become a really close knit team compared to where we were at the start,” Moen said. “I feel it was more competitive and there were more distant relationships. Now we’re all really close and competitive in a healthy way.”

Signs of progress began to appear for Moen throughout the course of last season. She was the team’s fourth runner to finish at both the Roy Griak Invitational and Wisconsin Adidas Invitational last season. She placed 28th and 53rd in the two events, respectively.

Moen displayed her best performance of the 2013 season at the Big 12 Championships. She was the second ISU runner to cross the finish line, and fourth runner overall to complete the race.

“At the conference meet last year, she had a great day,” Grove-McDonough said. “Honestly, I thought it was a perfect storm of some people tactically making some mistakes and Katy was there to capitalize. That was obviously an actual indication of what she was capable of.”

Moen displayed more improvement this year at the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 27. She placed fourth overall at the event, 24 spots better than where she finished at last year’s invitational.

Moen credits a lot of the progress and success she has encountered over the past season to luck. Her coach credits the success to her work ethic, her calmness under pressure and her ability to execute in big races.

Iowa State now has a one-two punch with Moen and junior Crystal Nelson. They’re the front-runners and leaders on the team. They both finished ahead of top-ranked Michigan State’s best runner at the Roy Griak Invitational, and they are expected to continue to lead the team down the stretch of the season.

One can only guess as to what’s in store for Moen during the remaining two months of the cross country season, but it would be shocking if there were no surprises in her final performances.