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AMES, Iowa - Iowa State cross country runner Meaghan Nelson has had a stellar 2012 season.  The second ranked Cyclones have won every meet they have competed in this season. Nelson and her Cyclone teammates will compete at the NCAA Championships, Saturday in Louisville, Ky.  The women's 6,000-meter race on the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park course starts at 11 a.m. CT.

"It has been our goal all year to do well," Nelson said, "Everyone is starting to get very excited.  We are all enjoying the time. We have put in so much hard work over the past month and summer we hope to see it all pay off at the national meet."

Last season, as a junior, Nelson finished 17th overall at the national meet.  Iowa State cross country coach Corey Ihmels believes that she can do even better this year.

"I think Meaghan was at a spot last year where she was still trying to figure things out," Ihmels said,  "I don't think she realized last year how good she was, and I think this year she has more confidence, I think that she will get up in there in the front pack. She is going into this meet with a lot more confidence and a lot more experience, and I think that will come in handy here in a few days at nationals."

The Cyclones have four girls who ran in the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championship.  They believe that the experience of competing in the meet last year will benefit them this year.

"Anytime that you can run at a national meet it is going to help you because you get to experience that level of competition," Nelson said, "We have quite a few girls who have run at that level. Betsy (Saina), Taylor (Petersen), Katy (Moen), and others have been there.  Even just being there and seeing the meet will help you know what it's like with the excitement and to not get nervous and be ready for this year."

The two seniors on the team, Meaghan Nelson, and Betsy Saina, have been pacing Iowa State this fall.  Ihmels likes what his senior runners bring to the team.

"Our group goes as Betsy and Meaghan go," Ihmels said, "I think both girls are all about the team. They are both very down to earth and humble.  I don't think they get too caught up about things going on around them and I think that demeanor really rubs off on our team.  I think that is part of the reason that this team has run well each meet this fall."

Meaghan Nelson looks to enjoy her last cross country meet as a Cyclone.

"Get excited about it," Nelson said, "It is a really unique thing that we will be able to do to compete at the national meet."


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