Iowa cross-country heads to NCAA regional

Iowa cross-country hits the road to Peoria, Illinois, for the NCAA regional.


Sid Peterson

Megan Schott runs to the finish line of the Women’s 4K at the Hawkeye Invitational on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 at Ashton Cross Country Course.

Hanna Malzenski, Sports Reporter

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Iowa cross-country could potentially run its final race of the season today in the NCAA Midwest Regional, hosted by Bradley in Peoria, Illinois. The women will be at the starting line for the 6,000 meters at 11 a.m. and the men at noon for the 10,000 meters.

The competition will be nothing new for the Iowa harriers. Their regular-season meets have been organized to frequently face Midwestern teams.

“All of these teams in the region know each other very well,” head coach Randy Hasenbank said. “The coaches, the teams, the rosters. We’ve all recruited the same kids, we know the capabilities, we typically know what style of race we can expect.”

Heading into today, Iowa’s regional ranking shows it will be able to hold its own.

Hawkeye men are ranked No. 5 behind Iowa State (No. 1), Oklahoma State (No. 2), Tulsa (No. 3), and Bradley (No. 4). The women are ranked No. 8 behind Iowa State (No. 1), Oklahoma State (No. 2), Minnesota (No. 3), Northwestern (No. 4), Kansas (No. 5), South Dakota (No. 6), and Missouri (No. 7).

Last season at this time, Hawkeye men were ranked No. 8, and the women were No. 14.

On the men’s side, Nate Mylenek has led the Hawkeyes in their later races this season. The junior set an Iowa record in the 10,000 meters (29:53.15‚ at the 2017 NCAA Midwest Regional in Ames and finished 32nd.

Despite breaking the school record, Mylenek’s status heading into last season’s race is quite different from this season’s.

“Last year, I felt really worn down the week before going into [NCAA regional], so feeling good this week has made me very confident,” he said.

It’s not just Mylenek — the sense of confidence is reflected in the rest of the men’s squad.

‘Everyone’s feeling great,” Mylenek said. “There’s a good attitude going about everyone right now.”

On the women’s side, Andrea Shine has been Iowa’s lead harrier, and this season will mark the senior’s fourth NCAA regional appearance. She finished 20th last year (20:46.2).

“This is the best way to cap off a really good career,” Shine said. “Just another opportunity to show all the improvements I’ve made from freshman year until now.”

With her final cross-country season nearing an end, Shine has seen a difference in the way she approaches the NCAA regional as a seasoned runner.

“In past years, I think I got a little bit caught up in the fact that it was a big meet,” Shine said. “I’d get a lot of nerves. I’ve just been trying to have fun running and remember why I do the sport and why I love it. I think that is making me more excited than I’ve ever been.”

The Iowa harriers’ performances today will determine whether they qualify for the NCAAs in Madison, Wisconsin, on Nov. 17.

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