Iowa men’s cross country runners see bright future ahead

The Hawkeyes’ roster features 14 underclassmen, 11 of which are freshmen.


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

The Iowa men’s cross country team has been solid this year, recording four top-five finishes during the regular season.

Despite their success, there is still room for the Hawkeyes to improve. 

Sophomore Nick Trattner and senior Noah Healy have been Iowa’s top two finishers at nearly every event the Hawkeyes have participated in. Behind Trattner and Healy, the Hawkeyes haven’t found much consistency.

A bevy of runners have rounded out the back part of Iowa’s lineup after Healy and Trattner. In almost all four of Iowa’s regular season races, a different runner finished third on the Hawkeyes’ roster behind Trattner and Healy.

The inconsistencies that plague the back half of Iowa’s lineup can be, at least partly, attributed to the Hawkeyes’ inexperienced roster. Fourteen of Iowa’s 17 athletes are underclassmen. The Hawkeyes have 11 freshmen on their team.

“A lot of these guys haven’t raced,” Trattner said of Iowa’s underclassmen. “I, myself, have probably eight 8,000-meter races under my belt. With every one you run, once you get two or three under your belt, you will be solid.”

“Earlier in the season, I can understand why you had an off race,” Trattner added. “Now, there is no excuse. We should understand the 8,000-meter distance and we gotta do what we gotta do.”

One of the Hawkeyes that’s trying to shorten the gap between Trattner, Healy, and the rest of the team is Kal Lewis.

Lewis is from Shelter Island, New York. Technically, the 2021-22 academic year is his second at the University of Iowa. On, however, he’s listed on the Iowa men’s cross country roster as a freshman because the NCAA did not count the 2020-21 academic year against any of its athletes’ eligibility because of COVID-19.

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Lewis only competed for the UI’s track and field team last year, so this season is his first running cross country for the Hawkeyes. 

Though he’s inexperienced, Lewis is still trying to make a positive impact on the Hawkeye cross country program.

“I am trying to provide as much as I can for the team,” Lewis said. “I have been enjoying myself and this team all season and it has been going well.

Lewis has placed in the top 25 in two events this year: The Hawkeye Invitational Sept. 3 and the Dirksen-Greeno Invitational Sept. 18.

Lewis credited much of his success to Iowa cross country head coach Randy Hasenbank.

“Coach is doing a really great job in maintaining what we are doing,” Lewis said. “He has been doing this for a couple of years now and has been in the coaching game for a while. I put all my faith in him and the team.”

The Hawkeyes finished 11th in the 14-team Big Ten Men’s Cross-Country Championships in University Park, Pennsylvania, last weekend.

While the result was disappointing for the Hawkeyes, they realize their team is young and that their best running is ahead of them.

“We have some really good kids,” Trattner said. “I think everyone knows that next season will be the one. We have a solid team with a good base, and I think next year is gonna be big. But, right now, we gotta focus on what’s ahead of us.”

The Hawkeyes’ next event is the NCAA Midwest Regional, which will be held in Iowa City Nov. 12.

“We are definitely progressing at a very fast rate,” Lewis said. “I think we have improved from the first race of the season. Now, we have the postseason coming up and it will be a great experience.”

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