Hawkeyes prepare for new season with the Hawkeye Invitational

The Hawkeye cross country season has kicked off, and the team hopes to use the momentum from last year’s Big Ten Championships last year.

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Hawkeyes prepare for new season with the Hawkeye Invitational

Iowa's Megan Schott runs in the women's 1500m race at the 2019 Drake Relays in Des Moines, IA, on Friday, April 26, 2019. Schott finished sixth with a time of 4:28.00.

Iowa's Megan Schott runs in the women's 1500m race at the 2019 Drake Relays in Des Moines, IA, on Friday, April 26, 2019. Schott finished sixth with a time of 4:28.00.

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's Megan Schott runs in the women's 1500m race at the 2019 Drake Relays in Des Moines, IA, on Friday, April 26, 2019. Schott finished sixth with a time of 4:28.00.

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's Megan Schott runs in the women's 1500m race at the 2019 Drake Relays in Des Moines, IA, on Friday, April 26, 2019. Schott finished sixth with a time of 4:28.00.

Ben Payla, Sports Reporter

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As the Iowa cross country season gets underway, the Hawkeyes are using their success at the Big Ten Championships last season as a building block for the upcoming year. 

“I want the squads to develop their own personalities and set their own goals, but an upper division finish moving towards the upper echelons of the league would be great,” said head coach Randy Hasenbank. 

At Big Tens last season, the men’s team finished sixth and the women ninth, their highest finishes since 2011 and 2009, respectively. 

For senior Megan Schott, preparing for her last season as a Hawkeye has kept her motivated in the off months. 

”[I’m] making sure to finish strong and put everything out there until it’s all over,” Schott said. 

This offseason, Hasenbank has imposed his usual training routine for the players. During the summer, athletes must train on their own using the routines that the coaching staff gives them. Hasenbank checks in on each athlete to talk about progress and how they handle the training plans. 

The turnaround from individual workouts to team practice is quick for the athletes. The teams have a one-week camp before classes start, followed by two weeks of practice before the Hawkeye Invitational. 

Both teams return most of last years best runners, so the bar is high for both squads this season. 

On the men’s side, the team is led by a strong upperclassman group, and with five seniors on the roster, there are high expectations. 

Nate Mylenik will be leaned on heavily as its best runner after a phenomenal 2018 campaign. 

“He’s the guy that will get us off to a good start at meets,” Hasenbank said. 

Other runners on the men’s side that could have a strong impact are seniors Karson Sommer, Brandon Cooley, and Luke Sampson, and with that impact comes a strong senior leadership role. 

“You have to really take an unspoken leadership, and you really want to set an example for the new guys who show up and don’t really know a lot and steer them in the direction we want the program to go,” Cooley said.

As for the women’s team, Hasenbank expects this to be one of the deepest women’s squads in recent memory, but as of now there is not a front runner of the group. 

Although the graduation of Andy Shine last year leaves big shoes to fill, Hasenbank believes there are athletes able to step in. Megan Schott, Elise Prescott, Kylie Latham, and Jessica McKee are expected to be the most competitive runners of the group this season. 

The underclassmen could be involved early to lead the pack, as well. Freshman Lia Kralovitz who trained with top runners in the team during the preseason and is expected to breakout come the regular season. 

Competing a home is a chance to get back onto the course in front of home fans. The Hawkeye Invitational is cross country’s only home meet of the season and will host five other teams from around the area, including Iowa State. 

The women’s race begins at 6 p.m. tonight, with the men following at 6:45 p.m. 

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