Hawkeyes Set To Open 2010 Season Friday

Aug. 31, 2010

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THIS WEEK – – The University of Iowa men’s and women’s cross country teams will open the 2010 season Friday at home with the Hawkeye Invitational, facing the University of Northern Iowa, Illinois State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Events will be held at the Ashton Cross Country Course, with the women’s 3K beginning at 6 p.m. and the men’s 6K at approximately 6:30 p.m.

IN THE RANKINGS – – Both men’s and women’s cross country teams are ranked in the preseason USTFCCCA Regional rankings. The Hawkeye men’s team is ranked fifth in the Midwest Region and the women’s team is ranked third. Nationally, the women’s team is ranked 29th overall. Illinois State, a competitor in Friday’s Hawkeye Invitational, is ranked 12th in the region in both the men’s and women’s rankings.

QUOTING COACH ANDERSON – – “We are excited to get the 2010 season underway. We feel good about the potential for this group and look forward to the challenge of getting back to the NCAA Championships. Each meet gives us a better indication of the long term potential for this year’s group of Hawkeyes.”

WIECZOREK NAMES TEAM CAPTAIN – – Head Men’s Cross Country Coach Larry Wieczorek announced senior Mark Battista will serve as the 2010 team captain. “Mark has had a tremendous amount of success on the cross country course and he represents everything I’d expect a Hawkeye captain to be off the course,” said Wieczorek. “He’s a great leader and I know his teammates will rally behind him throughout the season.” Battista, a native of New Lenox, IL, was an All-Region honoree in 2009 after placing 25th at the NCAA Regional with a career best time of 31:42 in the 10,000 meters. Battista is a three-time USTFCCCA academic All-American.

SEASON OUTLOOK – – The women’s cross country is looking to return to the NCAA Championships in 2010. Many of the athletes showed considerable improvement during the outdoor track season and have taken that positive improvement through the summer training. “We have a very strong team with a lot of depth, but staying healthy and running well is crucial if we are going to compete at 100% in all events,” said Head Coach Layne Anderson. “Top to bottom, we need to do the work it takes to get us to Terra Haute, IN, in November.” Anderson stresses to his team that the chance to run through the post-season is not a right, but an opportunity that must be earned every day. With the quality athletes this season’s roster boasts, working hard and pushing each other should not be a concern. Iowa’s upperclassmen Betsy Flood, Brooke Eilers, Amanda Hardesty and Lauren Hardesty will be challenged by quality up-and-comers and newcomers alike. The returners’ efforts will be complemented by redshirt freshman Megan Ranegar, four-time Iowa state qualifier freshman Mary Kenny and three-time Illinois state qualifier Caitlin Schwark. The team welcomes nine Hawkeye newcomers in 2010 to a team that boasts a wealth of ability. Anderson believes it will be a source of motivation for each individual runner and add to the team’s ability to compete with the top teams in the country. “It is really exciting,” Anderson says of the team’s depth. “It won’t be the same person at the top every meet with this balanced group. The course, weather and physical condition will really determine who is going to be our top performer. It is great to have an equal chance to be at the top because it adds motivation. It is rewarding and satisfying to have that opportunity every meet.”

The men’s team is just as determined to extend its season into November. The Hawkeyes hope to utilize the talented core of returners, including senior captain Mark Battista and 2009 freshman standout Jeff Thode, both all-region honorees. “We have a great nucleus of runners,” said Head Coach Larry Wieczorek. “We hope to get to that upper echelon and have the hard work through the off-season and season pay off with a trip to the NCAA Championships.” Like the women’s team, the core of runners returning for the 2010 season had the opportunity to improve during the outdoor track season. Sam Bailin, Brian Marchese and Chase Kadlec all had successful track seasons and are expected to continue that success throughout the upcoming cross country season. Incoming freshmen Andrew Smith, Illinois’ 3,200 meter state champion in 2009; Jon-Michael Brandt, a two-time cross country conference champion; Sam Chaney, a two-time conference and district champion and Nick Young are also expected to be competitors for Iowa’s top-five scores. “I think it is a definite possibility that we can have a different guy in the front at each race,” said Wieczorek. “We have some great recruits coming in that can push our older guys. Andrew Smith and Jon-Michael Brandt are just a couple of the incoming freshmen that we expect to have an immediate impact.”

UP NEXT – – The University of Iowa cross country squads will return to action Sept. 18 when they host the Iowa Invitational. Events will be held at the Ashton Cross Country Course, with the men’s 8K at 8 a.m. and the women’s 3K at approximately 8:45 a.m.