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 DARREN MILLER
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A nine-year distance drought ended for the University of Iowa after the first running event of the Big Ten Track and Field Championships on May 11 on Billy Hayes Track.
It had been nine years since the Hawkeyes secured a scoring spot in the women’s and men’s 10,000-meter run in the same outdoor season. Juniors Andrea Shine and Daniel Soto changed that when they finished sixth and eighth, respectively. In 2009, Iowa had 10K placewinners in Jolly Burke (seventh, 36:23.33) and Eric MacTaggart (eighth, 30:57.35).
“This is a conference with arguably the deepest tradition in the country as far as the history of American collegiate distance running,” Iowa assistant coach Randy Hasenbank said. “You have to earn your stripes just to break in and believe it or not, scoring is a big deal, because some of these teams are so deep with distance runners.”
Shine, from Crystal Lake, Illinois, allowed Michigan’s Erin Finn and Indiana’s Katherine Receveur to break free at the gun, but then found herself alone with a chase pack working together 30 meters behind. That positioning wasn’t ideal for a race covering 6.2 miles, but it worked for Shine.
“When nobody came with me, I realized I was going to have to try to run consistent splits, because that is what I’m good at,” Shine said. “I knew eventually the pack would start to catch up to me, but I wanted to make sure I could put myself in the best position early, because I didn’t want to regret how the race went out.”
The pack did make a move. Indiana’s Margaret Allen went around Shine. So did Minnesota’s Megan Hasz and Penn State’s Kathryn Munks.
“For a while when girls started to pass me, I kind of checked out and just wanted to finish,” Shine said.
But she heard Hasenbank barking target lap times and she received a boost from a flock of Hawkeyes cheering from various locations around the track.
“I knew that I had something left in me because I am just as fit as any girl on that track,” Shine said. “I regained my composure and that is what helped give me a second wind to get back in the position I wanted.”
Shine ran 78 seconds for her final 400 meters — her fastest split of the 25-lap race — and crossed the finish line in 35 minutes, 4.5 seconds. More importantly, the Hawkeyes earned three team points and went on to finish third out of 13 teams with 96 points.
“It was cool to get the ball rolling,” Shine said. “The girls did fantastic the entire weekend and it was nice to help start that momentum.”
Within minutes of Shine’s finish, Soto toed the line. A mile into the competition, the native of West Des Moines, Iowa, was in 23rd. By the time he went through four miles, he was 11th. With three laps remaining, Soto was ninth, one spot from placing. He passed Purdue’s Jaret Carpenter, held onto eighth, and got Iowa on the scoreboard.
“It was a goal we had circled from day one: get points and contribute to the team,” Soto said. “It was a much stronger 10K field than in years past. When we saw the field we were like, alright, in all honesty, top 12 would be a good effort.”
Soto thrived with what his coach refers to as a competitive spirit.
“We would love to win those races and get in the top three or four, but this is where we’re starting,” Hasenbank said. “Get these people where their minds are in the right place to come to this meet and feel they have a chance. Most of all, show up and compete.”
Soto’s team point was a psychological lift for the Hawkeye men, who finished sixth overall with 80 points. Showing that any scoring type of scoring is at a premium in the Big Ten Championships, eight points separated the five teams in second through sixth places in the final standings.
“We talk about being a momentum-type team where we start the day hot and it is contagious,” Soto said. “I’m glad I was able to go out there and do what a lot of people weren’t expecting me to do. Even though it is just one point, that meant so much for morale.”
Optimism abounds for the Iowa distance corps. Sophomore Nathan Mylenek placed third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, then doubled with a fifth-place showing in the 5,000 run. Junior Michael Melchert was fifth in the 1,500. Shine and senior Madison Waymire, along with Soto, Mylenek, Melchert, and freshman Karson Sommer all finished the 5,000.
“At times it almost looked insurmountable to close the gap on the rest of this league in some of these distance races,” Hasenbank said. “It will never be easy to score in this league, but as long as we’re putting our best efforts out there and putting ourselves in position, I like our chances.”