In what was his tenth-consecutive race leading the Hawkeyes at a meet, senior Nate Mylenek advanced to the NCAA Cross Country Championship for the second year in a row after finishing fifth in Friday’s NCAA Regional meet.
After a congested start to the race, Mylenek launched himself into the top group of runners after the halfway mark. In the midst of a crowded front pack, the senior went in and out of the top three but ultimately finished in fifth place with a time of 30:51.
“Nate is just a tremendous competitor,” head coach Randy Hasenbank said. “Not many athletes get to compete in the national championship for the final race of their career. This is the second year in a row with a top-five finish to secure a spot in the NCAA final.”
The season is over for the rest of the cross country squad, but there were plenty of performances of note for both the men’s and women’s teams.
The men bounced back from their performance at the Big Ten Championships with a seventh-place showing overall out of 27 teams. The Hawkeyes finished just three points behind Minnesota and five behind Oklahoma State in what was an extremely crowded pack of teams.
Seniors Luke Sampson, Brandon Cooley, and Daniel Murphy all hit personal records in the 10,000-meter in the last races of their careers, all helping the Hawkeyes move up the leaderboard to finish strong.
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Meanwhile, the women’s side finished 10th overall out of 33 teams. The women finished well ahead of 11th place North Dakota State, as well as beating fellow Big Ten schools Nebraska and Northwestern.
Freshman Leah Kralovetz capped off an impressive freshman year with a 16th place finish at this weekend’s regional meet.
For the second-straight meet, Kralovetz had a strong finish after starting the race in the middle of the pack. At the 2,000 mark, she sat in 40th place before shooting up to 16th at the 4,000-meter mark and maintaining it the rest of the race.
Her 16th-place finish was the best among all freshman runners, and Hasenbank is extremely excited for the future.
“Great to see her finish the season on a high note,” he said. “She battled through some adversity during the mid-season, so I am very proud of her.”
The relatively young team competed well at the meet, and several athletes stood out this weekend. Junior Elyse Prescott had a solid outing, finishing 49th overall with a time of 21:54. Meanwhile, junior Ashley Bryja finished 76th overall and fourth for the Hawkeyes as she hit her personal record at the 6,000-meters for Iowa.
Megan Schott competed in her final race as a Hawkeye, finishing 44th overall and second for Iowa to cap off a career of a remarkable career.
“Megan arrived last fall as a grad student and gave the program a tremendous boost,” Hasenbank said. “She is a great leader for us and has set the standard at practice every day.”
While the team’s season is done, Mylenek will travel to Indiana for the NCAA Championship this Saturday where he will compete in the 10,000-meter race.