Iowa cross-country’s first finish line is a start

The Hawkeye Invitational is just the beginning of a demanding season for Iowa cross-country.

Bystanders+look+on+as+Senior+Andrea+Shine+runs+through+the+finish+line+during+the+Hawkeye+Invitational+at+Ashton+Cross+Country+course+on+Friday%2C+Aug.+31%2C+2018.+

Katie Goodale

Bystanders look on as Senior Andrea Shine runs through the finish line during the Hawkeye Invitational at Ashton Cross Country course on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018.

Hanna Malzenski, Sports Reporter

Iowa cross-country set the foundation for the season after competing in the Hawkeye Invitational this past weekend.

The Hawkeyes will use their impressive performances as a baseline, but the meet was just the beginning of a demanding season for the long-distance runners.

“We’ve been training since June, maybe even earlier,” senior Dan Soto said. “We have to compete at our best in November, so a lot of times, these first couple meets are rust-busters. We approached this meet as a glorified training run.”

The senior from West Des Moines said the times from the Hawkeye Invitational show both the tweaks that need to be made and the next steps that need to be taken in training. Soto and fellow senior Ian Eklin finished the 6,000 meters in 18:44, leading the Hawkeye men at No. 9 and No. 10. The men’s squad finished second to Iowa State.

“We know the raw ability; now, let’s see where we can go from here,” Soto said.

Senior Andrea Shine won the women’s 4,000 meters at 14:07 — resulting in a gap of more than 13 seconds between her and second-place finisher Abby Caldwell of Iowa State. Shine has been the lead runner for the Hawkeye women for the past seven races, beginning at the 2017 Hawkeye Invitational.

Her first-place performance on Aug. 31 is exactly what head coach Randy Hasenbank expects.

“She’s gaining confidence by the years,” he said. “She’s just gotten better, and better, and better, so it is no surprise at all.”

With the lead runner position well-established, the biggest concern for the women harriers is deepening the lineup.

Hasenbank said the Hawkeyes have too large a gap between the No. 1 and No. 2 runners.

We know the raw ability; now, let’s see where we can go from here.”

— Dan Soto

Megan Schott has shown potential to be the solution. The senior traded her Iowa State uniform for the Black and Gold after transferring for the 2018 season.

“Clearly, Megan is that person,” Hasenbank said. “She is going to be a tremendous addition who will give us a lot of confidence and make our team stronger up front.”

Schott’s début as a Hawkeye resulted in a time of 14:23, placing her fourth and contributing a much-needed low time for Iowa in addition to Shine’s. The Iowa women finished second to Iowa State.

As the season progresses, Iowa’s harriers will continue to make strides toward their ultimate goals: performing well at the Big Ten Championship and the NCAA regional. The runners won’t see those races until the end of October and early November, but the Hawkeyes know that their mental endurance is just as important as their physical one.

“Like any team, we still have a lot of work to do,” Hasenbank said. “You have to keep your team healthy. This is a pretty tough sport on the body.”

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