Hawkeyes to Open Cross Country Season

Sept. 1, 2009

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THIS WEEK– The University of Iowa men’s and women’s cross country teams will open the 2009 season Friday at home with the Hawkeye Invitational, facing the University of Northern Iowa. Events will be held at the Ashton Cross Country Course, with the women’s 3K beginning at approximately 6 PM CDT and the men’s 6K at 6:30 PM.

2009 MEN’S SEASON PREVIEW— For men’s Head Coach Larry Wieczorek, he is looking forward to bouncing back from a season he believes his team underachieved.

“Our cross country team has qualified for NCAA’s four times in the past seven seasons, with the last time being 2006. I think making it back would be a challenging, but realistic goal for the season.”

Although the cross country squad loses long-time stars Eric MacTaggart and Andy Napier, there is a strong group of returnees and newcomers. After last year’s trip to the NCAA’s, senior Jesse Luciano will look to continue his success. Seniors Brendan Camplin and Tommy Tate, juniors Sam Bailin and Mark Battista, and sophomore Chase Kadlec are also expected to contribute. Redshirt freshman Nick Holmes is also ready to go. Holmes started his 2008 season with a bang, finishing first in the season’s opening meet. But, he was hampered by injuries for the rest of the season and redshirted the 2009 track season. Joining him this season will be freshman Jeffrey Thode, a 2008 cross country state champion.

“I think it’s all starting to come together,” Wieczorek says of his cross country team. “We have a great mix of experience and raw talent. We’re putting the pieces together to be the NCAA team that we want to be.”

2009 WOMEN’S SEASON PREVIEW–The women’s cross country team hopes to continue the success it’s experienced under Head Coach Layne Anderson, having made three consecutive trips to the NCAA Championships. The biggest loss to the team will be perennial all-star Racheal Marchand. A team that was youthful last year is now more experienced. There are a few newcomers that should hasten improvement.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to rely on one workhorse to earn all our points, like Marchand and Diane Nukuri or others in the past,” Anderson said. “There’s no one, at this point, that stands out as that type of runner. That isn’t to say that person doesn’t exist. I think a lot of people on our team have all-Big Ten potential, but I don’t think there will be that constant front-runner.”

Not having a clearly dominant runner might sound like a bad thing, but this plays into the strategy that Anderson has for the team. The Hawkeyes will be emphasizing a pack-running mentality that should translate to better team scoring.

“In the past, there would sometimes be a two-minute gap between our first and fifth runners, and I don’t think there should be that kind of discrepancy. If we can run as a tighter group that should help push everyone to run harder.”

Anderson’s squad will have a strong group of returning athletes that includes junior Hannah Roeder and sophomores Betsy Flood, McKenzie Melander, Brooke Eilers and Lindsay Anderson. Some newcomers could provide an immediate impact, notably Sarah Boyd, Megan Lessard, and Megan Ranegar.

HAWKEYE WOMEN’S COACH Layne Anderson — Layne Anderson is in his second year as head coach of the University of Iowa women’s cross country and track and field teams. He has served as the women’s cross country coach for the past six seasons, and was the interim head women’s track coach in 2008. From 2003-07, he served as an assistant women’s track coach for the Hawkeyes.

In Anderson’s six years with the cross country team, the Hawkeyes have made strong strides toward recapturing the program’s success of the 1980’s. The team qualified for the NCAA Championships the last three seasons after a 14-year absence from the meet. In 2008, the Hawkeyes placed sixth at the Big Ten meet and fourth at the NCAA Midwest Regional, marking the third straight season that Iowa has placed sixth or higher at the conference race and fourth or higher at the regional meet. During Anderson’s tenure, the Hawkeyes have also set school records in the 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000 meters

HAWKEYE MEN’S COACH Larry Wieczorek — Larry Wieczorek is in his 23rd season as head men’s cross country coach and is in his 14th season as head men’s track coach at the University of Iowa. He served as an assistant track coach for 12 years before taking the helm in 1997.

Wieczorek took over the men’s cross country program in 1987, and has since shifted his track responsibilities to the distance corps. During his tenure, the cross country team has placed sixth or higher 10 times at the NCAA Regional Championships, has posted 33 allregion selections and qualified for the NCAA Championships five times. In 2002, Wieczorek was named Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors by the United States Cross Country Association after the Hawkeyes won the NCAA Regional for the first time in school history. In 2004, the Hawkeyes recorded their highest placings under Wieczorek at the Big Ten (3rd) and NCAA Championships (13th). He has coached several Hawkeyes to individual honors – including 2006 NCAA Midwest Regional Men’s Athlete of the Year Micah VanDenend and Iowa’s two Big Ten Cross Country Freshman of the Year honorees in Jared Pittman (1993) and Reed Steele (1998).

UP NEXT — The University of Iowa cross country squads will head north to the University of Minnesota for the Griak Invitational on September 26. Events will be held at Les Bolstad Golf Course and are slated to start at 12:55 p.m.