Cyclones Prepare for the Roy Griak Invitational
AMES, Iowa - The Iowa State women's cross country team, which is ranked eighth nationally and first in the Midwest Region in the latest rankings released by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, opens the season in earnest Saturday at the Roy Griak Invitational on the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. The Cyclone men, who are ranked sixth in the Midwest Region, will also tow the line this Saturday.
"We're excited about what's ahead this season," Iowa State head coach Corey Ihmels said. "Both groups have high expectations at the conference, regional and national levels."
The Cyclone women ran to an eighth-place NCAA finish last November, recording the second-best national cross country finish in Iowa State history and the best women's team finish in over 25 years. The Cyclones' impressive end to the season was preceded by many other accolades, including earning the Midwest Region title in early November.
Iowa State's women's team also recorded third-place finishes at the Roy Griak Invitational, the Pre-Nationals Invitational and the Big 12 Cross Country Championships. This fall, they will be led by three-time All-American Betsy Saina and All-American Dani Stack. Both runners were members of the 2010 team.
"I think the top-seven is pretty wide open," Ihmels said. "I think our top-four is as good as any top-four in the country. After that though, it's pretty wide open and we have a lot of young ladies vying for those spots."
The Iowa State men faced a difficult end to the 2010 cross country season with their campaign ending earlier than expected after not receiving an at-large team bid to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
"On the men's side, we have a few veterans come back in Rico Loy and Martin Coolidge, but other than that I think we have a lot of kids fighting for spots. I think it will be an interesting year."
The Cyclones face a competitive schedule this season traveling to Minnesota for the annual Roy Griak Invitational, a meet in which Iowa State teams have performed in with success in the past. They will also travel for the first time to Madison, Wis. to race in the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational Oct. 14. The second half of the season will include the Big 12 Cross Country Championships in College Station, Texas followed by the NCAA Midwest Regional in which the Cyclone women will be the returning champions. The NCAA Championships are Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
"I think everyone expects us to come back after last season and be one of the top teams on the women's side, whereas the men are probably a little more in the unknown," Ihmels said. "But I think both teams are excited about where they are at in their training and I think we're in a good spot right now getting ready to head into the bulk of our season."
The Griak meet will feature an 8,000-meter men's race that will start at 12:20 p.m. The women's 6,000-meter race will start at 1:10 p.m.