XC Notebook: 2023 Hawkeye Invite

University of Iowa men’s and women’s cross country begins its 2023 season, hosting the Hawkeye Invite on Friday evening. The Hawkeyes welcome Illinois State, Indian Hills CC, and Truman State to the Ashton Cross Country Course. The women’s 4,000-meter race begins at 6 p.m. (CT) and the men’s 6,000-meter race to follow at 6:45. Admission is free.

The University of Iowa men’s and women’s cross country team’s home for training and competition is the Ashton Cross Country Course. Located west of the Finkbine Golf Course, the course first opened in 2003 and has hosted the 2014 Big Ten Championships and 2016 and 2021 NCAA Regionals. The course boasts a rolling terrain with outstanding rhythm for running, and offers the ability to race from 3K to 10K around a layout that enables spectators to view the race from start to finish.

The University of Iowa women’s cross country team enters the season ranked No. 15 in the USTFCCCA Midwest Region preseason poll. The Hawkeyes are one of five Big Ten teams ranked in the Midwest top 15, including No. 3 Northwestern, No. 4 Minnesota, No. 8 Illinois and No. 11 Nebraska. The remaining nine Big Ten teams are ranked in their respective regions. Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin are ranked in the Great Lakes Region. Maryland, Penn State and Rutgers are ranked in the top 15 of the Mid-Atlantic Region.

2022 RECAP
University of Iowa cross country capped off its 2022 season at the NCAA Midwest Regional at the Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia, Missouri. The Hawkeye women finished 14th out of 33 teams, led by Emma Gordon. Gordon’s 18th-place individual finish and 20:37.1 personal best made her the third Hawkeye woman in the last 10 years to finish in the top 20 at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Returners Kelli Tosic, Brooke McKee, Ellie Twedt and Amber Aesoph rounded out Iowa’s top five finishers to help the Hawkeyes earn 403 points. The men’s team placed 17th out of 27 teams with 454 points. Sophomore Miles Sheppard is Iowa’s top returner from the meet, crossing the line in 31:15.7. Returners Aidan King, Ian Geisler, Jack Pendergast and Yohana Yual finished with sub 32-minute marks in the 10,000-meter event.

Following the season opener, the Hawkeyes will have four regular season meets, including a preview of the Big Ten Conference Championship meet. The Badger Classic (Sept. 9) in Madison, Wisconsin, will provide a look ahead at the Big Ten Championship course. The Hawkeyes remain on the road the following week with the Redbird Invite on September 15. Following a weekend off, the team returns to action at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invite in South Bend, Indiana, on September 29. Iowa’s final regular season race is in Peoria, Illinois, at the Bradley Pink Classic on October 13. Postseason competition begins with the Big Ten Championships in Madison on October 27. The NCAA Midwest Regional is hosted by Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on November 10. The 2023 NCAA Championships are held in Charlottesville, Virginia, on November 18.

Junior Max Murphy enters the cross country campaign, looking to build off of a record setting outdoor track season. Murphy set the 5,000-meter school record at the Stanford Invite with a 13:39.77 finish early in the season. He shined at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, taking second place in the 5,000-meters (13:53.94) and the 10,000-meters (29:18.05). Sophomore Will Ryan heads into the fall season after a successful close to his outdoor track campaign. Ryan placed third in the 5,000-meter race at the U20 USATF Championships in June, qualifying for the U20 Pan American Games in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, he improved his time by over five seconds (14:52.06) and took home bronze while representing the Hawkeyes and United States. Sophomore Hayden Kuhn competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U20 USATF Championships and placed sixth with a mark of 9:09.80.

The Hawkeye women will lean on the veteran core of Amber Aesoph, Brooke McKee, Abby Ryon and Kelli Tosic in 2023. Tosic was a top three Hawkeye finisher in each of the races she competed in last year, while McKee and Aesoph improved as the 2022 season unfolded. Tosic and Aesoph finished second and fourth respectively at last year’s Hawkeye Invite, helping Iowa win the team title. Miriam Sandeen, Rowan Boulter and Ellie Rathe had strong summers and look to break into the top of Iowa’s lineup. The women’s squad is balanced with competitive underclassman, including Jalyssa Blazek and Aleah Tenpas, and the freshman trio of Cameron Kalaway, Clare Kelly and Audra Soderlind. Iowa returns 18 letterwinners from a year ago.

Iowa’s men’s team is led by star junior Max Murphy, who holds two top-10 marks in program history. Murphy ranks sixth all-time in the 6,000-meter (18:19) and the 8,000-meter (23:44) races. Behind Murphy, the upperclassmen unit of Ian Geisler, Aidan King, Jack Pendergast and Yohana Yual had nice summers and are aiming for a pack mentality in the lineup. Hayden Kuhn, Will Ryan and Miles Sheppard lead a pack of underclassmen looking to break through and push the top of the lineup. Sheppard closed an impressive freshman campaign as Iowa’s fifth finisher at the Big Ten Championships in 2022. In total, the men’s team returns 12 letterwinners from last season. A talented, competitive trio of Luke Knepp, Flynn Milligan and Miles Wilson join the team and begin their Hawkeye careers.

The University of Iowa cross country team added seven student-athletes to its 2023 roster. Three men join the Hawkeyes: Luke Knepp, Flynn Milligan and Miles Wilson. On the women’s side, the four newcomers include Cameron Kalaway, Clare Kelly, Ava Rush and Audra Soderlind.

Of the 29 women on Iowa’s roster, 21 hail from the Hawkeye State. Six additional states are represented, including Illinois (3), Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin. On the men’s side, 12 of the 15 members are from Iowa. Illinois is represented by two student-athletes, while Colorado is the home to one Hawkeye.

The Hawkeyes get a look at the Big Ten Championship site at the Badger Classic in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 9. The meet begins at 10:30 a.m. with the men’s 8,000-meter race followed by the women’s 5,000-meter race at 11:10 a.m.

For an inside look at the Iowa cross country program and to access exclusive coverage, “like” The University of Iowa Cross Country and Track & Field Facebook page and follow the Hawks on Twitter (@IowaXC_TF) and Instagram (@iowaxctf). Follow live results at hawkeyesports.com/tracklive.