XC Notebook: Badger Classic

University of Iowa men’s and women’s cross country hits the road, traveling to Madison, Wisconsin, for the Badger Classic at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. This year’s Badger Classic will provide a look ahead to the Big Ten Championships, hosted by Wisconsin, on Oct. 27. Competing teams include Iowa, Illinois, Marquette, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State and Rutgers. The men’s 8,000 meters begins the day at 10:30 a.m. (CT) with the women’s 5,000 meters to follow at 11:10.

The University of Iowa women’s cross country team entered the season ranked No. 15 in the USTFCCCA Midwest Region preseason polls. 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.

University of Iowa men’s and women’s cross country opened its 2023 campaign with a record-setting night at the Hawkeye Invitational on Sept. 1. Junior Max Murphy shattered the men’s 6,000-meter school record by nearly 13 seconds, breaking the tape in 17:57.7. Sophomores Hayden Kuhn, Miles Sheppard, Will Ryan and junior Ian Geisler helped Murphy and the Hawkeyes rewrite the top-10 record books. Kuhn (18:05.4) and Sheppard (18:07.4) used personal bests to finish right behind Murphy and move up to second and third all-time at Iowa, respectively. Ryan (18:17.4 – 7th all-time) finished fifth, while Geisler (18:17.6 – 8th all-time) crossed the line in sixth. The men’s team ran away with the team title, scoring 17 points. On the women’s side, junior Amber Aesoph led the squad, finishing third with a new 4,000-meter best of 14:19.3. Three more career bests followed with a seventh-place finish for sophomore Jalyssa Blazek (14:34.6), eighth-place for junior Brooke McKee (14:35.5), and ninth-place for sophomore Aleah Tenpas (14:36.0). Freshman Clare Kelly rounded out the top-10 with a 14:40.0 time in her Hawkeye debut. The women’s team finished second overall, earning 37 points.

Junior Max Murphy kicked off the 2023 cross country season in record-setting fashion at the Hawkeye Invite, shattering the program’s six-year 6,000-meter record, previously held by Ian Eklin. Murphy’s 17:57.7 broke the school’s top mark by nearly 13 seconds. Previously, the Hawkeye star had ranked sixth all-time in school history, before the 22-second personal best set at the Ashton Cross Country Course. Four more Hawkeyes moved up the program record list: Hayden Kuhn (18:05.4 – 2nd), Miles Sheppard (18:07.4 – 3rd), Will Ryan (18:17.4 – 7th), and Ian Geisler (18:17.6 – 8th).

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. Aesoph was the top Iowa finisher at the 2023 Hawkeye Invite, while Jalyssa Blazek, McKee, Aleah Tenpas and Clare Kelly rounded out the top five. 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 Blazek and Tenpas, and the freshman trio of Kelly, Cameron Kalaway 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 owns the school record in the 6,000-meter (17:57.7) and ranks sixth in the 8,000-meter (23:44) race. 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 impressed at the Hawkeye Invite, setting career bests and entering the top-10 all-time list. Sheppard closed an impressive freshman campaign as Iowa’s fifth finisher at the Big Ten Championships in 2022. In total, the men’s team returned 12 letterwinners from last season.

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 remain on the road and head to the Redbird Invite in Normal, Illinois, on Sept. 15. Competition begins at 5:00 p.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.