Oct. 31, 2015
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By CHRIS BREWER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa cross country team is traveling to the 2015 Big Ten Championships this weekend with a bag of optimism.
Matched against four nationally ranked men’s teams and five nationally ranked women’s teams, the Hawkeyes see an opportunity to turn a fast track into a series of lifetime bests.
“We are excited about the opportunity that lies ahead,” said UI head coach Layne Anderson. “We have prepared well and feel confident that we can pursue personal-best performances.
“If we can achieve that across the board we can use the final results to better assess the distance program, its progress to date, and the potential for the future.”
The men’s 8,000-meter race starts Sunday at 10:45 a.m. (CT). The women’s 6,000-meters follows at 11:45 a.m. Northwestern hosts the conference championships at the Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course.
Coming In Hot
Sophomore Michael Melchert has been Iowa’s top finisher in each of the last two races, setting personal bests at the Notre Dame Invite and Bradley Pink Classic.
“I feel pretty strong after those two meets,” said Melchert. “I’ve been healthy and feeling very fresh this last week getting geared up for Big Tens.”
Sophomore Madison Waymire has led the Hawkeye women in every race this season. Another top finish and she will become the first Hawkeye to lead the pack in five consecutive races since Racheal Marchand in 2008.
“I want to do my best to benefit the team, whatever place that may be,” said Waymire. “I want to put myself out there and give myself the best opportunity to help our team as much as possible.”
First Time Around
Eight Hawkeyes are competing at the Big Ten Championships for the first time, including Waymire, a transfer from Missouri, and Ian Eklin, one of four freshmen competing for the Iowa men.
“I am looking forward to this being a stepping stone to a successful career at high-caliber competitions,” Eklin said. “I don’t think that being a freshman makes much of difference because at the end of the day we are all running as hard as we can, and age plays little role when it comes to toughness.”
Been There, Done That
Junior Tess Wilberding is making her third appearance at the Big Ten Championships. She finished in Iowa’s top three in every race this season and says she is better prepared this year than ever before.
“I’m prepared and that gives me confidence,” Wilberding said. “I’m using the experience from year’s past to relax because I know I’ve been here before and how it works.”
Iowa’s team captain has also been charged with spreading that message to her rookie teammates.
“I have been telling them they are ready and should treat this meet like they would any other,” said Wilberding. “Once they get there the excitement will come naturally and help us all along.”
Melchert is running the conference race for a second time. He placed 64th as a freshman in 2014.
“Last year I was pretty terrible and this year has been better,” he said. “Running at the meet last year gives me extra confidence because I know how the race is going to play out and where I need to be at different points. I feel much more comfortable and am excited to see what this team can accomplish.”
On The TV and @IowaXC_TF
BTN will air the Big Ten Championships on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. For behind the scenes coverage and real-time results, follow @IowaXC_TF on Twitter.