Saina Works to End Season Strong
AMES, Iowa - Iowa State redshirt junior Betsy Saina has consistently been one of Iowa State's top-three runners during the 2011 cross country season. Cyclone head coach Corey Ihmels had repeatedly called his lead group of Saina, senior Dani Stack and junior Meaghan Nelson as good as any program's top-three in the nation. Saina, a three-time All-American for Iowa State, is no stranger to running as part of the lead pack.
The Eldoret, Kenya native has finished in the top-20 at every meet thus far on a schedule featuring some of the nation's most competitive meets, including the Roy Griak Invitational, Wisconsin Adidas Invitational and the Big 12 Championships.
"Coach and I have been working hard to do what we think can help me do better in races," Saina said. "I hope this weekend it can come through since we only have two races left this season."
In the first big meet of the season, Saina finished the 6,000-meter race 15th as the Cyclone women went on to reclaim the team title at the Roy Griak Invitational for the first time since 2009. In the final race before the Big 12 Championships, she placed 18th at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, a meet that featured 19 of the nation's top-30 teams. Two weeks ago, Saina earned All-Big 12 honors for the second consecutive year in cross country, finishing 13th at the conference championships, helping her team to the first Big 12 team title in Iowa State women's cross country history.
The Cyclones' top-three has remained constant through the entirety of the season It is truly a team effort.
"This year has been exciting, with three Iowa State girls racing at the front of the pack," Saina said. "It's fun when the three of us can finish in the top places. This weekend, I hope we will run as a group, finish together and fight hard to get the regional title as well."
With only two meets left in the 2011 cross country season, Saina hopes to continue improving from the races she ran earlier in the year. While she has posted high finishes, Saina has not been entirely satisfied with her races this season.
"My goal for this weekend is just to race smart and keep my eyes on my teammates to see that we are together and working as a team," Saina said. "I have been feeling great since the conference meet and I feel like I can do better this weekend."
Saina was the runner-up at the 2010 NCAA Midwest Regional Championships and 88th at last year's NCAA Championships.
"There isn't any pressure to have the same kind of finish this year," Saina said. "But it is a motivation for me. I finished really well at the regional meet last year and this year I would love to do the same thing."