Cyclones Ready For 2013 Slate: Season Preview
AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State men’s and women’s cross country teams continue to draw closer to the first meet of the 2013 season. The Cyclones are slated to kick off the schedule at the Drake 4K Classic on Aug. 30th in Des Moines, Iowa.
Both squads return key scorers from last year’s rosters. The Cyclone women return four runners who finished in the top 20 at the 2012 Big 12 Championship in Crystal Nelson (8th), Samantha Bluske (9th), Katy Moen (14th) and Colleen Riley (18th).
Women’s head cross country coach Andrea Grove-McDonough is excited about the team’s new leadership.
“We have some great returners this season who have shown tremendous leadership throughout the summer and the early fall,” Grove-McDonough said. “We graduated a couple of superstars this past year including National Champ Betsy Saina and we need to see Sam, Katy and Crystal, who was stellar as a freshman, step out of that big shadow and really assert themselves in races and even in practice. From what I've seen they've been ready for their moment and I am excited to see them lead this group through the Big 12 Championships and into the NCAA Championships.”
Bluske, Moen and Maggie Gannon have been named team captains, the first time in recent history the title has been awarded within the program.
The top returners for the men are Mohamed Hrezi, who burst into the spotlight last season, and Alexander Dillenbeck, both finishing in the top-30 at last season’s conference championships. Edward Kemboi, Brian Llamas and Martin Coolidge also figure to play key roles on the team.
Assistant coach Jeremy Sudbury is impressed with the attitude his returners are taking this season.
“Mo and Alex have stepped up for us and become great leaders. Along with Martin Coolidge, they’ve done a great job thus far being the leaders we need them to be. In these first few practices, they’ve shown that they worked hard over the summer and are ready to help the team reach their goals.”
The Cyclones hope to receive immediate production from newcomers after losing 2012 NCAA champion Betsy Saina and All-American Meaghan Nelson. Incoming freshmen Erin Hooker and Bethanie Brown are no strangers to the big stage. Brown was an 11-time state champion in Maine with victories in the 5,000-meter (XC), 800-meter, 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs as well as the 4x400-meter relay. Hooker holds Colorado Class 5A State Champion accolades in the 3,200-meter run, and finished in the top-15 three times at the Colorado State Cross Country Championships.
“The newcomers Brown and Hooker really showed that they were not intimidated by the older girls and that they were going to firmly plant themselves in the program,” Grove-McDonough said. “With these freshmen who are so talented and capable of running with anyone on the team, it really fires a team up.”
Jason Thomas, an incoming freshman from Des Moines, Iowa (Dowling Catholic), looks to be an instant contributor for the men. Thomas is the reigning 1,600-meter state champion, 2012 Drake Relays champion and holds the Iowa state record in the event at 4:10.14. Thomas led the Maroons to back-to-back 4A state titles in cross country, taking home the individual title in 2012 in 15:02. Also looking to make his mark on the program will be England native Charlie Joslin-Allen, a product of the Tonbridge Athletic Club. Joslin-Allen notched a top-25 finish at the UK National Championships and has earned recognition as one of Britain’s top runners.
Sudbury is excited to see the newcomers grow and progress.
“Coming in as an 18 year old straight out of high school, it’s a lot of pressure, especially competing against guys who are older and have been through the system,” Sudbury said. “Our goal is to continue to develop our younger guys and help them find their niche in the program to give them their best chance at success.”
Iowa State is set to compete twice in September. Both squads will travel to Iowa City for the Iowa Black and Gold Invitational on Sept. 13. On Sept. 28, the Cyclone women return to the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., where they are the two-time defending champs. The following week, the men will travel to Bethlehem, Pa. for the Lehigh Paul Short Run on Oct. 5. The Cyclones will then wrap up the regular season in Madison, Wis. at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 19th.
Iowa State kicks off the postseason on Nov. 2 in Waco, Texas at the Big 12 Championships. On Nov. 15, the Cyclones host the NCAA Midwest Regionals at the Iowa State cross country course. It will be the first time since 1997 that Iowa State has hosted a regional meet. The Cyclone women captured the Big 12 and Midwest Regional titles in both 2011 and 2012.
As two-time defending champions, the women will look to become the second-current Big 12 member to three-peat as champions. To read more about their chase for the three-peat, click here.
To view the Cyclones’ full 2013 schedule, click here.