Loy Leads by Example
AMES, Iowa - Led by Rico Loy, the Iowa State men's cross country team travels to DeKalb, Ill. to compete in the NCAA Midwest Regional Cross Country Championship on Saturday. Loy placed 12th overall at the Big 12 Championships on Oct. 29 with a 8,000-meter time of 24:08. This week's field, he believes, will be a little tougher as the race moves to 10,000-meters, but his goal remains the same.
The Regional men's race will start at noon.
Cross country takes on a different meaning in Europe than it does in the U.S. Loy described the sport in his native Germany as an obstacle-ridden race, where it was not uncommon to find one's self trudging through mud pits and up rough inclines. His preference does lie in American cross country, where the biggest obstacles are your competitors.
"It is much nicer running on a smoother surface, like a golf course or a mowed path because it allows you to focus more on goals and placing, instead of just getting across the line," Loy said.
Most cross country runners will also run track during the winter and spring. However, these distance runners tend to run in the longer races such as the 10,000 meters or an occasional 5,000 meters. Loy is one of the team's top 1500-meter runners. He posted a time of 3:45 to win the 1500 meters at the 2010 Drake Relays. Loy is able to use the mental endurance gained from cross country to better himself on the track. He often also finds a high correlation between a strong cross country season and a strong track season. For him, the biggest difference between the two comes at the start of the race.
"The start of a track race is usually a quick burst and sometimes a sprint," Loy said. "In cross country, you don't have to worry as much about that, but you do still have to establish yourself early."
Loy's ultimate goal for the weekend is to qualify for the NCAA Championship meet. In order to do so, the team will have to place first or second, or he will have to place among the top four individual spots taken by individuals not already on a qualifying team. He believes this is an attainable goal.
"We will have to push a little harder especially during the last 3,000 meters of the race and not let the leaders get too far out of reach," Loy said.
While qualifying as an individual would be great, Loy believes there is no better way to do it than as a team. When asked about his leadership role, Loy said that he believes his leadership lies in his actions. While he does offer encouragement and talk strategy with his teammates before races, he believes his greatest influence lies in his performance. That performance will have to be even stronger this week, as the Cyclones race for a spot at the NCAA National Cross Country meet Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.