Learning The Ropes

Oct. 17, 2005

IOWA CITY, IA – One comes from Las Vegas, Nevada. The other from Delafield, Wisconsin. Combined they won their conference four times and were all-conference and all-state five times in high school.

Now, freshmen Blake Schlotzhauer and Alex Webster are roommates and making a difference on a veteran Iowa men’s cross country team.

“Blake and Alex have done a terrific job. I’m excited about the contribution they’ve made so far, not only with their performance but with their attitude and how they fit in,” said Head Coach Larry Wieczorek.

With a team led by five seniors, the Hawkeyes, ranked No. 14 in the Mondo Men’s NCAA-1 Cross Country Poll and No. 1 in the Midwest Region Poll, have looked to seven true freshmen to provide the spark they need in the Big Ten Championships.

“They’ve made a nice contribution in competition. They’ve pushed in training and helped push others. They come in with a real positive attitude, a fresh spirit, and new blood,” said Wieczorek.

Schlotzhauer and Webster didn’t waste any time, placing eighth and 13th, respectively, in their first collegiate race at the Hawkeye Open in early September. In their latest race, Webster placed 34th and Schlotzhauer 39th at the Murray Keatinge Invitational.

Despite finding early success, both are still adjusting to their new surroundings and team.

Freshman Alex Webster

“In high school, I could take it easy on an easy day. Here, on easy days, I have to push myself even harder. It’s a lot faster. You can’t run how you feel some days because you have to run with the pack,” said Webster.

Schlotzhauer agrees, noting that the level of competition has been a change from his days in Las Vegas and Davenport.

“Starting out, you realize you aren’t the best anymore. You’re running in a race with all-Americans and other great athletes, just like you are. In a race, you are running in the pack instead of at the front where you were in high school,” he said.

The freshmen have been able to learn how to train and prepare for the big meets because of the strength of the seniors.

“They provide a lot of leadership. They lead by example in practice by having us push ourselves as hard as possible,” said Webster.

Coach Wieczorek knows the seniors can help make or break the future of the program, depending on how much of an influence they have.

“It’s going to be a big loss when they leave. It’s very important that they pass on their attitude and what they’ve done for the program. I’ve got an unusually large group of good student-athletes leaving,” he said.

Nevertheless, Wieczorek is thrilled the freshmen are not only getting a chance to compete but also are showing promise for next season.

“Blake and Alex have done a terrific job. I’m excited about the contribution they’ve made so far, not only with their performance but with their attitude and how they fit in.”
Head Coach Larry Wieczorek

“It’s fun to compete and that’s what they train for. Getting in there and learning what it’s all about is what gets them going and excited,” he said.

While they may be young in their promising careers, Webster has lofty goals for himself and for the team.

“I want to be a part of a Big Ten Championship team. That’s always been my dream. I’d also like to be all-Big Ten someday and qualify for the NCAA Championships,” said Webster.

Schlotzhauer plans on following what he hoped to accomplish this year: doing anything that he could to help.

“I just want to keep contributing to the team in any way I can,” he said.

By Jennifer Bissell, Iowa Sports Information