Iowa cross country adjusts to long-distance races

The Hawkeyes have run increasingly long distances in the 2021 season.

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Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa runners Nick Trattner (left) and Noah Healy (right) compete in the Hawkeye Invite meet at the Ashton Cross Country Course on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

Jake Olson, Sports Reporter


Conditioning has been a focus for both Iowa men’s and women’s cross country this season, especially as the race distances for the team increase.

Iowa kicked off the 2021-22 season by hosting the Hawkeye Invitational at the Ashton Cross Country Course in Iowa City on Sept. 3. The event featured a men’s 6,000-meter and women’s 4,000-meter race.

The Iowa men won the 2021-22 Hawkeye Invitational, and the women finished third.

The stakes were ratcheted up at Iowa’s next meet — the Dirksen-Greeno Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska. The University of Nebraska-hosted outing boasted an 8,000-meter race for men and a 5,000-meter for women.

The Hawkeye women won the invitational and the men placed third.

After the Dirksen-Greeno Invitational, Iowa head coach Randy Hasenbank said the Hawkeye men struggled because they lacked experience. Hasenbank added that only a handful of his athletes had participated in an 8,000-meter race before.

The Hawkeye men’s cross country team’s 17-runner roster features 11 freshmen. 

RELATED: Iowa cross country competes in Bradley Pink Classic

Since they ran the Dirksen-Greeno Invitational on Sept. 18, the Hawkeye men and women have only competed in 6,000-meter and 8,000-meter races, respectively.

Now, ahead of the 2021 Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships in University Park, Pennsylvania, some of Iowa’s runners are adjusting to the longer races.

“I am definitely used to [8,000-meter races],” Iowa men’s runner Nick Trattner said. “Our training has got us ready for it, and we feel good for the 8K.”

Trattner added that, with every 8,000-meter race completed, he and his younger teammates believe they’ll get better at long-distance competitions.

The Iowa men had to jump right from their 6,000-meter race at the Hawkeye Invitational to the 8,000-meter events they ran for the rest of the regular season.

The Hawkeye women, however, ran in a 5,000-meter race at the Dirksen-Greeno Invitational. The event served as a bit of a warmup between Iowa’s season-opening 4,000-meter course at the Hawkeye Invitational and the 6,000-meters it has run since.

“[The 5,000-meter race] has been a nice stepping stone, especially because our team is so young,” senior Emma Gordon said. “A lot of them ran 5Ks in high school. It helps our team a lot because we are very fit up front. So, it really plays into our fitness, and it shows the work we have been able to put in.”

Of the 30 athletes on the Hawkeye women’s roster, 10 are freshmen.

The 2021 Big Ten Cross Country Championships begin Oct. 29. Early event action will begin at 9:45 a.m.

“The men will be going into their third 8K, and I expect them to continue to improve as a result,” Hasenbank said. “The women will be doing their second 6K and should race with a lot of confidence because they are running very, very well.”

NCAA Men’s and Women’s Regionals will follow the Big Ten Championships Nov. 12. The site of the 2021 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Midwest Regional is Iowa City.

NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships will cap the 2021 cross country season in Tallahassee, Florida, Nov. 20.

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