Cyclones Prepare for Big 12 Cross Country Meet
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AMES, Iowa - The Iowa State cross country teams open post-season competition Saturday at the Big 12 Championships at the Pebble Creek Country Club in College Station, Texas. The Cyclone women will enter the championship weekend as the second-ranked Big 12 team at 13th nationally and first in the Midwest Region. They are topped only by No. 12 Texas nationally. The Iowa State men head into the weekend ranked seventh in the Midwest Region.
"I think both squads are looking to have their best meet of the year and get the championship season off to a good start," Iowa State head coach Corey Ihmels said. "There's a lot to look forward to this weekend."
The Cyclones will be led by senior Dani Stack and juniors Meaghan Nelson and Betsy Saina, all of whom have made a name for themselves in the first half of the 2011 cross country season.
"I've said all along this season that I think our top-three are as good as any top-three in the country," Ihmels said. "We're really excited about what they can do at the conference meet. I think all three of those ladies have a chance to win the individual crown and we haven't had someone do that in a while. But we're more concerned about the team and getting our top-five in before anyone else's."
On the men's side, the Cyclones will be led by senior Rico Loy and sophomore Martin Coolidge, both of whom have been top finishers for the Cyclones in regular season meets earlier this season.
"Martin had a tremendous meet up at Wisconsin," Ihmels said. "We're going to try and bunch him and Rico up front and then we've had a bunch of guys in the three, four and five spots so they have to get in there and run as a pack as well. We're pretty young on the men's side and they're just figuring it out but I think they're ready to run well this weekend."
Stack, Loy and Nelson have all earned Big 12 Runner-of-the-Week honors this season.
Both squads will face tough competition at this year's Big 12 Championships. The Big 12 Conference boasts four of the nation's top-30 men's teams and three of the nation's top-30 women's programs, including No. 13 Iowa State. The Cyclone men will face national No. 1 Oklahoma State, as well as No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 11 Texas and No. 24 Texas A&M. Iowa State's women will face a tough race against No. 12 Texas and No. 30 Oklahoma State.
"You can either be scared about facing such good teams or be excited to be facing some of the best teams in the country," Ihmels said. "That's how we're going to look at it. We're not going to cede them anything. We just have to go out and bang heads with them and see what we can do."
The men's 8,000-meter race is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CDT, with the women's 6,000-meter race following immediately after at 11 a.m. CDT. Results will be posted on cyclones.com at the conclusion of the meet. Results can also be found from Delta Timing at deltatiming.com.