Iowa men’s cross country recruiting class brings depth, talent to the team

The class features seven talented runners with a wide skill set.


Emily Wangen

The University of Iowa’s Spencer Smith attempts to pass Drake University’s Kevin Kelly during the Hawkeye Invitational on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019 at the Ashton Cross Country Course. The Hawkeyes prevailed over six other teams to win first place overall in the men’s and women’s races. Smith finished in 7th place with a time of 18:25.3, while Kelly placed 14th overall.

Jordan Winke, Sports Reporter

Iowa’s 2020 men’s cross-country freshman class features seven talented runners from Iowa, Illinois, and New York. Two are Cedar Rapids preps. The freshman class adds a range of talents from quarter-mile speed to national championship-level cross country performances.

Dylan Dolezal

Dolezal is an accomplished cross-country runner from Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa. His mile speed will allow him to adapt to the aggressive, fast paces of Division I distance running. Dolezal’s short 2020 season showed the promise of huge improvement from his 2019 season. He ran a new indoor personal best in the mile of 4:29.12 at a Mizzou High School Indoor Series, a two-second improvement on his outdoor time from 2019. He also ran a strong 3,200-meter run in a time of 9:38.28 at the Dickinson Relays indoor meet.

Dolezal ran the same time at the 2019 Drake Relays, showing the improvement he made last off-season. He placed 26th at the 2019 Nike NXR Heartland Regional Championships and 12th at the 2019 4A Iowa High School State Cross Country Meet. Dolezal comes to Iowa with personal bests of 4:24.52 in the 1,600, 9:35.33 in the 3,200, and 15:45.9 in the cross country 5k.

Ian Geisler

Geisler, from Lake in the Hills, Illinois, attended Huntley High School. Geisler brings speed and strength to the men’s cross-country team. He has a broad range of talents, with the capability of running on a state place-winning 4×800 team and placed in the top 30 in the 5k at the Nike NXR Midwest Regional Championships.

Geisler has shown improvement each year for the last 4 years, dropping over 90 seconds from his 5k time between 2016 and 2019. Geisler placed fourth at the 2019 IHSA Class 3A State Cross Country Championships, running the 3-mile course in 14:25.0. Geisler brings personal bests of 1:59.02 in the 800, 4:18.54 in the 1,600, 9:08.25 in the 3,200, and 15:42.8 in the cross country 5k.

RELATED: Iowa women’s cross country team features strong, local incoming freshmen class

Daniel Klysh

Klysh attended York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois. He boasts both 400-meter speed and 5k endurance, making him a promising mile and 2-mile competitor at Iowa. He had a breakout junior year, with all of his best times to date coming from the 2019 outdoor season. Klysh competed at the 2019 NXN Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon, with his team, which placed second at the NXR Nike Midwest Regional Championships.

Klysh placed 10th at the IHSA Class 3A State Cross Country Championships. He placed fifth in the 800 at the 2019 Midwest Distance Classic. Klysh comes to Iowa with personal bests of 51.76 in the 400, 1:56.48 in the 800, 4:19.64 in the 1600, 9:59.7 in the 3,200, and 15:35.2 in the cross-country 5k.

Kal Lewis

Lewis is a Shelter Island High School prep from Shelter Island, New York. His shortened 2020 season showed promising performances in the 300, 600, and 1,600. Lewis placed second in the 1,600 at the 2020 NYSPHSAA/NYS Federation Championships with a new indoor personal best time of 4:17.24. He competed in the 2018 New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championships, which is widely regarded as the national championships for high school track and field.

Lewis was the 2019 NYSPHSAA Class D Champion in cross country, running a time of 14:28.1 for three miles. He was the 2019 Section 11 Champion in the 5k. Lewis brings personal bests of 39.9 in the 300, 2:32.94 in the 1,000, 4:15.22 in the 1,600, 9:34.22 in the 3,200, and 15:27.3 in the cross country 5k.

Max Murphy

 Murphy is a talented distance runner from Bettendorf, Iowa, who attended Pleasant Valley High School. He has experience running in prestigious meets and will add instant depth to the Iowa roster. His accolades include a fourth-place finish at the 2019 NXR Nike Heartland Regional Championships, which earned him a place at the NXN Nike Cross Nationals as an individual qualifier.

He is the 2019 4A Iowa High School Cross Country state champion. He dropped nearly a full minute off of his 5k time between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Murphy was a 2019 Drake Relays qualifier in three events. Both his 1,600 and 3,200 best performances were run during the shortened 2020 indoor season. He joins the Iowa cross country team with personal bests of 4:24.18 in the 1,600, 9:34.36 in the 3,200, and 15:19.5 in the cross country 5k.

Jack Pendergast

Pendergast is a Cedar Rapids Prairie prep from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Between the 2017 and 2019 outdoor seasons, Pendergast dropped 40 seconds off of his 3,200 time and 25 off of his 1,600 time. His only performance in 2020 was the 1,600, during which he ran a new personal best.

Pendergast was a state and Drake qualifier in both 2018 and 2019, placing fourth in the 3,200 at the 2019 Drake Relays and seventh in the 1,600 at the 2019 4A State Track Championships. He placed 19th at the 2019 NXR Nike Heartland Regional Championships seventh at the 2019 4A Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships. Pendergast comes to Iowa with personal bests of 4:26.45 in the 1,600, 9:29.01 in the 3,200, and 15:40.0 in the cross country 5k.

Eli Ward

Ward is from Waterloo, Illinois, and was a six-time all-conference and four-time all-state performer in high school. He was a force at the Class 2A level in Illinois and comes to Iowa as one of the most promising recruits in the Midwest.

Ward brings personal bests of 1:57.00 in the 800 meters and 4:27.80 in the mile to the table for Iowa.

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