Cross country quickens the pace at Pre-Nationals

Men's team finishes tenth after beating three more ranked opponents.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa’s Nathan Mylenek picks up speed as he approaches the finish line of the men’s 6k during the Hawkeye Invitational at Ashton Cross Country Course on Friday, September 6, 2019. Mylenek finishd second with a time of 18:16.0. The Hawkeyes defeated six other teams to finish first overall for both men’s and women’s races.

Ben Payla, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s cross country team continued its dominance over ranked teams this weekend at Pre-Nationals, where it finished ahead of No. 14 Oklahoma State, No. 15 Indiana, and No. 27 Arkansas.

“The men performed very well and beat some great competition again [on Friday],” head coach Randy Hasenbank said.

Once again, it was senior Nate Mylenek who led the pack with a career-best 23:52 in the 8,000 meters, breaking his previous record set in last year’s Big Ten Championship. Mylenek finished 20th overall in the blue race, only 33 seconds off the top spot.

“Nate was excellent out front for us as he finished 20th against some of the best competition in the country. I like where he is at. He executed very well and showed a lot of composure,” Hasenbank said.

Although Mylenek had another great race, it was the depth of the team that propelled it into the top 10.

The next four placing Hawkeyes finished with a mere nine seconds in between. Spencer Smith finished second for the Hawkeyes while running a personal best of 24:34 at the 8,000 meters. Daniel Murphy was right behind Smith and finished third for the team and 68th overall, running a 24:35.

Luke Sampson and Noah Healy rounded out the scorers for Iowa, all running under the 24:45 mark.

“The gap between runners 2-5 is the best I can remember. Nine seconds separated the four over a five-mile race distance. The gap between those four is crucial to our success,” Hasenbank said.

With the result, the men’s side will be under heavy consideration to be ranked for the first time under Hasenbank and in recent memory.

The women’s side had several athletes have solid weekends as the team finished 24th overall out of 37 teams.

Senior Megan Schott led the Hawkeyes by finishing 70th overall and running a 21:08.

Freshman Leah Kralovetz finished second for the Hawkeyes and 92nd overall on her way to running a 21:24 in her first competitive 6k.

Elyse Prescott finished third for the Hawkeyes by running a solid 21:40 and finished 123rd overall.

“The women competed well, but we probably over-ran the first 1000 meters of the race. Just being a little more patient will make a big difference in the result.  The effort, however, was outstanding. Megan raced well up front, and Leah had a very good day competing in her first 6k,” Hasenbank said.

With Pre-Nationals in the rear-view mirror, the Hawkeyes will now have two weeks to prepare for the biggest meet of the season: the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

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