Men’s X-C heads to Wisconsin, women travel to Bradley

The men will face “the best of the best” this weekend at the Pre-Nationals Invite in Wisconsin. The women will compete in the Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria.


Sid Peterson

Ian Eklin and Daniel Soto race in the Men’s 6k at the Hawkeye Invitational on Friday, August 31, 2018 at Ashton Cross Country Course. Iowa State defeated Iowa 24 to 56.

Hanna Malzenski, Sports Reporter

Iowa cross-country is nearing the end of its regular season with its second-to-last races before the Big Ten Championships. Head coach Randy Hasenbank’s two Hawkeye squads will head in different directions this weekend.

The team will be split between two states with the women in Illinois and the men in Wisconsin. The women will race at the 6,000-meter Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria at 3:15 p.m. The men will face the best of the best at the Pre-Nationals in Madison in the 8,000-meter Cardinal Race beginning at 11:30 a.m.

“We view ourselves as not just the men’s team or women’s teams,” Daniel Soto said. “We view ourselves as the Iowa cross-country team.”

RELATED: Iowa cross-country holds its own at Notre Dame Invite

Wisconsin presents a unique opportunity for the Iowa men: to compete with a wide and tough range of competition from across the country. In the seeded Cardinal race, they will test their strides against regionally ranked No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 3 Michigan, No. 1 Northern Arizona, No. 3 Colorado State, No. 1 Ole Miss, and No. 2 Stanford. The only other time Iowa would race against such diverse teams is during Nationals, hence the “Pre-Nationals” invitational name.

“That’s kind of why we all went Division-1,” Soto said. “We’re all competitors. We really enjoy seeing what we can do against the best of the best.”

The men have held the Midwest region’s No. 9 spot since Week 2 and will continue to do so in Week 4.

With the rankings aside, Iowa has developed a roster of harriers that know how to execute the crucial tight finishes.

Soto has been the leading man for Iowa in every race this season. Whether it was the short 6,000-meter race at the Hawkeye Invitational or the lengthy 5-mile race at the Notre Dame Invitational, the senior has been Iowa’s consistent No. 1.

Quickly closing the gap behind Soto has been junior Nathan Mylenek, who has been the second finisher for Iowa in all but one race so far this season. The other 10 Hawkeye harriers have followed Mylenek in the last three scoring positions  interchangeably. This dependable depth has resulted in Iowa’s five scoring positions to finish within an average of 50 seconds from each other.

The Hawkeye women have been orbiting the lower end of the regional rankings this season and ended Week 3 in the No. 13 spot for the Midwest Region. But Week 4 is completely different. The Iowa women jumped seven spots and are now No. 6, the squad’s highest ranking since 2012.

At this point in the season, the women have developed a roster that is beginning to carry the same depth as the men’s. Senior Andrea Shine has been Iowa’s frontrunner and finisher since the 2017 season and has not let up during the 2018 season.

Last year at Bradley’s invitational, Shine cracked into Iowa’s All-Time Top Ten for the 6,000 meters as the No. 9 with a time of 20:47.3. She finished second, and the team placed ninth.

Behind Shine has been fellow senior Megan Schott, who transferred from Iowa State for the 2018 season and has repeatedly proven to be a valuable addition. The harrier from Des Moines has been the second finisher for all three races so far.

This will be Schott’s first time running the Bradley course.

“I’ve never been on this course before, but given that it’s kind of our last test before the real deal, the championship season, I think everyone is just planning on taking really big risks and going for it,” Schott said.