Iowa women’s cross country’s Emma Gordon reflects on development

After coming to Iowa out of Ankeny Centennial High School in 2018, the senior has shaved significant time off her races.


Braden Ernst

Emma Gordon leads the women’s one-mile run early during the Jimmy Grant Invitational meet at the Iowa Recreation Building in Iowa City on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Members of Drake, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Iowa and Wisconsin were featured at the meet.

Jake Olson, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s cross country has had a successful season early in 2022.

The Hawkeyes placed seventh out of 14 teams at the Gans Creek Classic in Columbia, Missouri, on Sept. 30, moving them into 13th in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Association Midwest Regional top 15.

Much of the Hawkeyes’ success has come from senior Emma Gordon.

Gordon reinvented herself when she came to Iowa from Ankeny Centennial High School in fall 2018. Through the past five years, Gordon has fought to become one of Iowa’s strongest and most consistent runners on the squad.

“I think it speaks to the process and how distance running works,” cross country coach Randy Hasenbank said. “She came in as a very average athlete with no big accolades at all in high school. She basically, just like we do with a lot of our walk-ons, reinvented herself at this level.”

Hasenbank also said one of Gordon’s biggest strengths has been confidence — once she got all of her physical pieces in place, she became very confident in herself. Gordon now attacks courses and workouts with belief.

“It is great to be teammates with her,” junior Kelli Tosic said. “She is such an inspiration and one of the hardest-working people I know. Seeing what she can do gives the team a lot of confidence.”

Gordon has been speeding through cross country courses throughout 2022. While she didn’t finish as Iowa’s top runner in any events last season, Gordon has placed first for Iowa in every race so far this year.

Gordon placed first overall at the Hawkeye Invite on Sept. 2 with a time of 14 minutes and 12.9 seconds in the 4,000-meter race. She paced Iowa at the Big Ten Invite on Sept. 9, finishing 14th overall with a 21:44.5 time in the 6,000-meter. Most recently, Gordon finished with a personal best at the Gans Creek Classic with a 6,000-meter time of 20:53.6 — good for 10th all-time at Iowa.

“I was a developmental athlete,” Gordon said. “Even in my races in high school, I have cut so much time. I think it is good that I have been able to put together some consistency.”

Gordon’s teammates have not only seen massive improvements from her but also major forms of leadership on and off the course. Having Gordon be a leader on the racetrack and in the locker room is essential for the development of younger athletes on the team.

“She is not only leading physically but in terms of overall support,” Tosic said. “She is always talking and checking up on the team. She is super committed to other aspects of cross country. She is very uplifting and sets a great example.”

Gordon said she wants to lead the Hawkeyes to a successful season. With two regular season races remaining before the Big Ten Championship, Gordon thinks the Hawkeyes still have a lot of time to prove themselves.

“Some of my favorite moments from being here are with the team,” Gordon said. “Races where we run very well are always special. It is always special when we cross the finish line and get a PR.”