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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa cross country runners Flynn Milligan, Will Ryan reunite to represent high school history

Iowa cross country runners and best friends Flynn Milligan and Will Ryan will reunite on the cross country course in the black and gold to replicate their success as high school teammates.
Theodore Retsinas
The Iowa men’s cross country team competes during the Hawkeye Invitational at Ashton Cross-Country Course in Iowa City, on Friday, Sep. 1, 2023. The Iowa men’s team won the invite with the women coming in second second.

The last time cross country runners Flynn Milligan and Will Ryan ran alongside each other, they were crowned state champions. The duo reunited at the University of Iowa this year, eager to take the course as Hawkeyes.

Before they donned the black and gold, Milligan and Ryan ran for decorated coach Tim Ives at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines. The athletes have a close relationship with their former coach, as he prepared them to make the college transition. 

“For Will and Flynn both, I think Iowa was their first choice all along,” Ives said. “When Iowa actually extended that invitation for them to join the team, it was an amazing experience for those two.”

Ryan, a sophomore, believes his foundation at Dowling Catholic under the direction of Ives shaped him into the runner he is today. When he expressed that he wanted to run at the collegiate level, he knew Ives’ approval was valuable.

“The thing about Coach Ives is that he is always going to give it to you straight,” Ryan said. “He’s not going to tell you fairytales.”

But this was no fairytale. 

Ryan, a home-grown Hawkeye fan, made his dreams of committing to Iowa come true. In doing so, he also paved the way for his best friend to follow in his footsteps. 

“Having people like Will has just made this transition so much easier,” first-year Milligan said. “From the first day I walked into the Iowa locker room, Will was there to welcome me.”

Their friendship began in middle school when they competed on the same cross country team. However, the pair started to click more in high school when they became not only teammates but best friends. 

“Will is like my brother,” Milligan said. “He is someone I can always go to and look up to both in and out of running.”

Ryan was also excited to welcome his former teammate to the Hawkeyes. He admires the hard work Milligan constantly puts in and hopes they continue to feed off of each other during practices and meets this year. 

“It’s been so fun for Flynn to come in and give us all a little taste of Dowling [Catholic High School],” Ryan said.

The Iowa coaches have noticed the “Dowling effect,” too. Distance coach Randy Hasenbank thinks the team will benefit from the experience Milligan and Ryan bring to the table. 

“They are coming from a very successful program,” Hasenbank said. “They are process-oriented, and that is what you need in your program. You need process-oriented guys that have had success and want more.”

Milligan and Ryan are looking forward to the upcoming year with goals of making an impact on the team, being the best they can be, and improving the team’s placement from last year’s Big Ten Championship finish, in which the men’s Hawkeye runners finished seventh out of 14 teams.

They believe their upbringing at Dowling Catholic High School will help them to approach the season with the right mentality, beginning at the Hawkeye Invitational on Sept. 1 against Illinois State, Indian Hills, and Truman State and continuing on Sept. 9 with the Wisconsin Badger Classic.

“We’ve brought the Dowling team culture to Iowa, and I think our mindset and how we approach training has helped us,” Ryan explained. 

Ives still has his own expectations for his former athletes, which include contributing to the team and competing. 

“At the very least, I expect them to bring the best aspects of Dowling Catholic cross country culture to the University of Iowa,” Ives said. “I’ll be honored to see them change out from the maroon and white to the black and gold.”

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About the Contributors
Mia Boulton
Mia Boulton, Sports Reporter
Mia Boulton is a freshman at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication, as well as exploring a possible double major in Sports Media. She works at the Daily Iowan as a sports reporter. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Mia has been a photographer for her hometown newspaper, The Record.
Theodore Retsinas
Theodore Retsinas, Photojournalist
Theodore Retsinas is a freshman at the University of Iowa studying Neuroscience.