September 2013

Issue link: http://catalog.e-digitaleditions.com/i/157779

Contents of this Issue


Page 30 of 58

This Fall, Think Big and Think Spring By Chris Brewer T he University of Iowa women's cross country team could go a lot of directions in 2013, but in the eyes of head coach Layne Anderson, if they don't think big they'll never go big. "I've told the team we have a blank canvas," said Anderson. "We have the potential to make of it what we will. We could make it a masterpiece, but everyone has to want it to happen and work together in collaboration." The collective effort will come from a group of fresh legs. Eighteen of the 22 student-athletes on the roster are freshmen and sophomores. That demographic will lend itself to some inevitable growing pains, but it also presents a youthful optimism Anderson says the Hawkeyes need to embrace. "To say we're a young team would be overstating the obvious," said Anderson, "but it's a chance to develop a new era of Iowa cross country. It's a young team, but it's a talented group and I can see them over time going on to do some exciting things." The Hawkeye men are in a similar position. Head coach Larry Wieczorek says he is running with a group that continues to chase its untapped potential, and he's hoping a successful season on the course spirals into an infectious year on the track. "For the distance runner, you want to have success in the fall, but you want to be strong in May and June as well," said Wieczorek, who led Iowa to three consecutive NCAA appearances from 2004-06. "It's not a successful season, to me, if we had a good cross country season and did not produce at the track and field championships." Since 2011, when Iowa won the Big Ten Track and Field championship, the Hawkeyes have been a conference contender in nearly every competition. But the distance corps has played second fiddle in recent postseasons, and Wieczorek says this year's group is aiming for change. "I think they feel pressure, and I do as their event coach, to produce and contribute to Big Ten Championships," said Wieczorek. "Fortunately, we have people who are capable of doing it, and I believe it's the type of group that can get us back to that run of NCAA appearances." Junior Kevin Lewis and senior John Michael Brandt are the men's top returners. Lewis is a two-time NCAA qualifier in track and field, and Brandt was Iowa's top finisher at the 2012 NCAA Midwest Cross Country Regional. Both are expected to take that next step and pave a path for sophomore Caleb Wilfong, and newcomers Matt Butler, Kevin Docherty and Quentin Shaffer. The Hawkeye women are led by the sophomore trio of Lisa Gordon, Courtney Martin and Cindy Saliba. All three started gaining traction at the 2012 Big Ten and NCAA Championships, and Anderson says while they are young, they're eager and able to lead by example. "They've made a commitment to becoming good collegiate runners," said Anderson. "Living the life, putting the work in, taking care of themselves, and understanding, 'I'm really going to have to work hard.' "I challenged them with a leadership role, but the exciting thing is I challenged them after they expressed they wanted to do that. I felt like I was only reaffirming what they had said in their mind was something they wanted to do." The Hawkeyes open the season with consecutive home meets on Aug. 30 and Sept. 13. The Big Ten Championships are Nov. 3 at Purdue, two weeks before the NCAA Regional in Ames, Iowa. "We have a fairly wide range where we could finish," said Anderson. "What's important is we work together, stay the course, and get better each meet." "Our optimism legitimately is the highest it's been in several years," added Wieczorek. "This is a talented group that will take some development, but we have a great group of veterans and newcomers that can make it happen." 31

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of HAWK TALK - September 2013