Iowa cross country to host NCAA Midwest Regional Friday

The 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Midwest Regional will be held at the Ashton Course in Iowa City.


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 and women’s cross country teams could both be participating in their final events of the 2021 season this weekend.

The Hawkeyes will host the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Midwest Regional at the Ashton Cross Country Course in Iowa City on Friday. Action is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

Iowa has already held one event at the Ashton Cross Country Course this year: The Hawkeye Invitational. Iowa won the men’s division of the competition. The Hawkeye women finished third.

“We know it really well,” sophomore Nick Trattner said of the Ashton Cross Country Course. “It is gonna be really wet and cold, but everyone will have to deal with it. The course is nice for 10K. I think both teams will be ready.”

Brooke McKee, a freshman on the women’s team, added to Trattner’s sentiment, noting that Iowa has had workouts at the Ashton Cross Country Course all year. McKee said Iowa runners will have an advantage over the rest of Friday’s field because they’ll know which hills to attack and what spots on their home course are tough.

“Practices have been good,” McKee said. “We have just been trying to maintain and prepare for a big competition on Friday.”

The Hawkeyes come into the NCAA Midwest Regional fresh off a poor showing at the 2021 Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships in University Park, Pennsylvania. The Iowa men and women placed 11th and 12th, respectively. The field in University Park included just 14 teams.

RELATED: Iowa cross country falters at Big Ten Championships

Trattner was the Iowa men’s highest finisher at the Big Ten Championships, placing 42nd. McKee placed the highest on the women’s team, finishing in 52nd.

If the Hawkeye men and women do not qualify for the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships — which will be run Nov. 20 in Tallahassee, Florida — Friday’s event will be Iowa’s last of the season.

“This is the final race and we have to go out there and get it and be competitive,” Trattner said. “The race is a 10K. So, you will need the extra strength at the end. We are all capable of doing it. Just trying to wrap the season up and have a good last race is the main goal.”

Iowa head cross country coach Randy Hasenbank said the Hawkeyes don’t have to do much scouting of the course they’re running this week because they’ll be competing at home in Iowa City. Hasenbank added that Iowa’s conditioning shouldn’t be an issue this week either, given this might be the Hawkeyes’ last event of the 2021 season.

“There is not a big adjustment on the women’s side because we know the course well,” Hasenbank said. “For the men’s side it will be a 10K race. We have our volume and our strength down, we just have to taper that going into Friday.”

The Iowa men haven’t placed better than fourth at an event since the University of Nebraska-hosted Dirksen-Greeno Invitational on Sept. 18. The Hawkeye women never finished worse than third in any of their four regular season events.