Iowa cross-country will get a preview of the Big Ten in Nebraska

Iowa cross-country is heading to Nebraska for the Woody Greeno Invite on Saturday.


David Harmantas

Ian Eklin kicks down a competitor at the finish line at the Hawkeye Invitational Cross Country meet on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017.

Hanna Malzenski, Sports Reporter

After two weeks off, Hawkeye cross-country will travel west for the Woody Greeno Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday. The women will start the competition with the 6,000 meters at 9 a.m., and the men’s 8,000 meters will follow at 9:45 a.m.

It will be the first time this season that the Hawkeye men and women face the NCAA regulation race lengths. For the returning Hawkeyes, the distances will be nothing new, but for the newcomers, the women’s 6K and men’s 8K will be the first true taste of college racing.

“With the rookies, we have guys on the team who have never been past 5,000 meters,” head coach Randy Hasenbank said. “We have women who have never who have never run 6K, and we have a lot of freshmen in the lineup.”

This weekend, Iowa will face four Big Ten teams: Michigan, Minnesota, Rutgers, and Nebraska. The teams will provide a preview for the Big Ten Championship at the end of October, also hosted by Nebraska. As a result, Iowa will run the same course this weekend as it will at the Big Ten meet.

“We’re going to focus on what we can control,” Hasenbank said. “I’m looking forward to great competition.”

In addition to the competition from the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes will face the Midwest Regional rankings. The regional rankings for Week 1 were released Sept. 9, and the Iowa men remained at No. 8 in the Midwest region and this weekend will face No. 4 Minnesota, No. 9 Nebraska, and No. 11 South Dakota State. The women jumped two spots to No. 10 and will compete against No. 2 Minnesota, No. 4 South Dakota State, and No. 15 North Dakota State.

But do the rankings determine the result?

At the 2017 Woody Greeno, the Iowa men placed first despite the No. 12 Midwest Region ranking they had going into the meet. Four Hawkeyes finished in the top 10: Nathan Mylenek and Ian Eklin led with a 1-2 finish, followed by Daniel Soto at fourth and Brandon Cooley at seventh.

“We’re looking to have a strong showing in the Big Ten,” senior Eklin said. “Minnesota is one of our big competitors in the regional rankings, so we’re going to try to see how we stack up against them, we racing our best guys and they racing theirs.”

The same goes for the women. Heading into the 2017 Woody Greeno, the Iowa women were ranked No. 12 in the Midwest Region, and they finished third. Andrea Shine placed first in the women’s 6,000 with a personal-best time of 21:39.9.

“I want to practice front-running again,” Shine said. “I think the big difference this year is that I have a team that can pack it up with me at the front so instead of just focusing on getting out by myself from the gun, I’d really like to pull four, maybe five girls along there with me.”

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