Iowa cross country coach Randy Hasenbank focuses on player development

Head coach Nathan Mundt and recruiting coordinator Mona Groteguth increased the roster from 13 athletes in 2021-22 to 21 this season.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa associate head coach Randy Hasenbank cheers on 3000m runners during the Hawkeye Invitational at the University of Iowa Recreation Building on Saturday, Jan 11, 2020. (Jenna Galligan/The Daily Iowan)

Jake Olson, Sports Reporter

Randy Hasenbank has always been involved with cross country.

From playing to coaching, Hasenbank has been in the sport for over 30 years and has deep ties to everything related to distance running.

Throughout his decades-long career, Hasenbank prioritizes support and confidence with his athletes.

“Throughout the years, he has been really supportive and encouraging to us, but he has also given us the tools to be confident in ourselves,” junior Brooke McKee said.

Hasenbank started his career in cross country as a student-athlete at Wichita State. He participated in the steeplechase — an event that features obstacles and water jumps throughout a 2,000-3,000-meter race.

Hasenbank helped the Shockers win the Missouri Valley Conference title in 1987 and returned to coach at his alma mater in 2002. There, he coached the women’s cross country team to a Missouri Valley Conference title in 2005 and won the 2006 Midwest Distance Coach of the Year.

One of Hasenbank’s most notable coaching stints was at Loyola-Chicago. He joined the Ramblers in 2011 and won five Horizon League Championships and was named conference coach of the year five times.

He was also named the 2013 Division 1 Midwest Region Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Hasenbank turned around multiple cross country programs, and he joined Iowa in 2017 to try and revitalize a program that saw a lot of success in the early 2000s. And he saw early growth. Hasenbank guided the Hawkeye men to a No. 5 ranking in the USTFCCCA Midwest Regional in 2017 — the highest ranking in Iowa men’s cross country program history.

Hasenbank has also coached multiple talented runners in his five-year Hawkeye tenure. Nathan Mylenek, who was at Iowa from 2017-21, was a two-time All-American in the steeplechase. He is also in the process of developing the Hawkeyes’ current top runners: senior Emma Gordon, junior Nick Trattner, and sophomore Max Murphy. Hasenbank’s talent as a coach, he said, is developing runners over time.

“Really, over time, when you look at the athletes that have come through here, it is the athletes that have been in the program for three or four years,” Hasenbank said. “They have grown the most and grown to affect what we do at the Big Ten level.”

Hasenbank coaches by putting faith in his runners with a lot of experience at the collegiate level, trusting his athletes and giving them the reins to do what they do best to compete and win.

Hasenbank’s 2022 athletes have set more than 25 personal bests in races this fall. At the Gans Creek Classic alone, Hasenbank guided the Hawkeyes to 19 personal records alone.

“He gives me a lot of freedom,” senior Konnor Sommer said. “He knows that I know what I need to do to make myself better. This is my fifth year now. I know the ropes, and I know what to do, and he respects that. I think we work well together in that regard.”

Iowa will compete at the NCAA Midwest Regionals in Columbia, Missouri, on Friday. The Hawkeyes are hoping for a team berth to the NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma — something Hasenbank hasn’t yet accomplished with Iowa.