Cross Country Begins Championship Action

Oct. 27, 2009

THIS WEEK– The championship portion of the season begins for the University of Iowa cross country teams with the Big Ten Championships, hosted by Penn State University. The men will be running a 5.2 mile race at 9:45 a.m. CT, and the women will follow with a 6,000-meter race at 10:45 a.m.

LAST TIME OUT — The University of Iowa cross country squads were in action in Terre Haute, IN, for the Pre National Invite. The women’s team finished eighth in the Blue 6,000-meter race in a field of 37 teams earning 283 points. Junior Brooke Eilers was Iowa’s top finisher at 29th with a season-best time of 21:17.6. The men’s team placed 16th out of 34 teams in the Blue 8,000-meter race with 422 points. Once again, freshman Jeffrey Thode was the leader of the Hawkeye pack, finishing 19th overall with a time of 24:15.9.

This is the second time this season that Eilers has led the Hawkeyes. Sophomore Betsy Flood was the next finisher, coming in at 46th with a time of 21:33.4. Flood’s time is a new career best, beating her previous best 6,000-meter time of 21:37 from last year’s Pre Nationals. This places her ninth all-time at Iowa in the 6,000-meters. Iowa’s next finisher, junior Amanda Hardesty also earned a new career-best mark of 21:48.9, crossing the line at 65th. Head Women’s Coach Layne Anderson spoke highly of his team’s performance.

“I thought it was a very solid day of running. We had some very outstanding performances. I really see a lot of potential in this team moving forward if we compete well down the stretch.”

Thode continued his stellar debut season, leading the Hawkeyes for the fourth consecutive time this season. Senior Jesse Luciano was the next Hawkeye to cross the line, finishing 68th at 24:51. Junior Mark Battista was next at 87th, earning a season-best finish of 25:02.5.

“I thought we ran well, but we’re not totally happy with how we did,” said Men’s Head Coach Larry Wieczorek. “We made progress but I think that we can run better. I liked our individual efforts, we had a great day from guys like Thode and Battista, so hopefully this leads to bigger and better things down the road.”

USTFCCCA WEEK FIVE POLL — Both teams held their spot from the week four poll, with the women ranked 23rd nationally and fourth in the Midwest Region, while the men are ranked seventh in the region.

Following their performance at Pre Nationals, the women’s squad jumped six spots in week four to find themselves at 23rd, their highest national ranking this season. They had previously been 29th for two weeks in a row.

“After a solid showing at the Pre NCAA meet we are excited to once again move up the national rankings,” said Anderson. “The Championship portion of our schedule is officially here and we will need to get better in the weeks ahead to finish up what has been a promising season to date.”

NCAA CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS LIVE ON VERSUS — The 2009 Divison 1 Cross Country Championships will be broadcast live on VERSUS on Nov 23. This is the third year that the championships will be on live television, and the first year with VERSUS.

The championships are hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute, IN. Events are slated to begin at approximately 11 a.m. CT, starting with the men’s race and the women to follow.

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 all-region selections and qualified for the NCAA Championships five times. In 2002, Wieczorek was named Midwest Region Coach of the Year 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 Hawkeyes will travel to Missouri State University at Springfield, MO, for the 2009 NCAA Midwest Regionals on Nov 14.

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