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Courtesy: Athletics Communications

Crystal Nelson Turning Heads Early

Release: 10/18/2012
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AMES, Iowa - Iowa State freshman cross country runner Crystal Nelson has not only surprised herself, but also Cyclone cross country fans.  Nelson has improved in each competition and is happy with how she is running. She has been a key performer as the No. 2 Cyclones won both meets.

"I was not expecting to run what I did at Wisconsin," Nelson said.  "Throughout the workouts I was showing improvement, but I wasn't expecting almost a two-minute personal record at the Roy Griak Invitational.   It's definitely exciting."

Nelson placed 26th as Iowa State's third finisher (behind All-Americans Betsy Saina and Meaghan Nelson/no relation) in a field of 323 runners at the Wisconsin adidas meet Friday in Madison, Wis.  Nelson covered the 6,000-meter course in 20:10. That performance followed her effort at the Griak meet in Falcon Heights, Minn. The Winchester, Va. native was 22nd in a field of 211 runners as Iowa State's fifth finisher, covering the 6,000-meter course in 22:00.2.

Iowa State head cross country coach Corey Ihmels is impressed with Nelson and believes that Crystal can improve each week.

"I saw very early that she was doing things in training that the Meghan's, (All-American) Dani's (Stack), and the Lisa's (All-American Lisa Uhl) weren't able to do until their third or fourth year," Ihmels said. "I knew early on that she was going to be pretty good. She's been better earlier than some of those other women we've had that have had in our program."

Nelson, who is originally from Winchester Virginia, wasn't sure if she would end up at Iowa State, but is happy that she is here now.

"When I first came I was just checking out what Iowa State was like and wasn't expecting to commit here or anything," Nelson said.  "Once I got here and met the coaches and team everything clicked and it felt like the right fit.  I really enjoy running for this team and for Iowa State."

Nelson was both a high school indoor and outdoor track and field champion.  She didn't arrive at Iowa State until this fall but used this summer as a building block to train for the college cross country season.

Ihmels is pleased with the way Nelson has been able to join the team and compete right away.

"That's a tribute to her high school coach and what training she had," Ihmels said. "I think she's come in and her schemes have matched up pretty well.  She hasn't missed a beat.  I'm surprised at how quickly it's come but I'm not surprised with the way she's been able to train day to day."

The Cyclone runner is excited about her future as a Cyclone and ready to help the team anytime, anywhere.

"I definitely want to stay in the top five on the team," Nelson said.  "Hopefully I can run another personal record time again at nationals. That is my main goal. I am definitely excited for the conference meet.  I can't wait to see how the team does next week.  I know last year we won and I think that we can do it again."

Nelson and the Iowa State cross country team will run at the Big 12 Championships in Austin, Texas on Oct. 27.
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