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

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa cross country second-years Hayden Kuhn, Will Ryan, and Miles Sheppard are creating a strong team culture and leading the pack on the course

Kuhn, Ryan, and Sheppard are key members of the team on and off the course.
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.

After a quick start to the season, Iowa cross country second-years Hayden Kuhn, Will Ryan, and Miles Sheppard are stepping up as crucial leaders on the men’s team.

The trio has proved themselves on and off the course by building the men’s team culture and delivering top finishes for the Hawkeyes.

Their sophomore success began in the first meet of the year — the Hawkeye Invitational held on Sept. 1.

Junior Max Murphy broke the men’s 6,000-meter school record but was closely followed by Kuhn, Sheppard, and Ryan. Kuhn finished directly behind Murphy, earning the second-all-time best 6,000-meter time with 18:05.4. Sheppard crossed the line two seconds later and became the third best in school history. Ryan ran an 18:17.4, earning himself a spot in the record books as the seventh all-time best.

“We ran pretty well, and it was really cool to have people come out and support us,” Kuhn said. “The environment was so awesome. That was probably the most proud I’ve been this year.”

In the following meet, all eyes were on Sheppard.

The Badger Classic, held in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 9, was described as “disappointing” from a team standpoint. However, the core sophomore trio all achieved personal bests in the 8,000-meter race. Sheppard finished ninth overall with a time of ​​24:38.3, followed by Kuhn in 17th with 25:02.5, and Ryan in 25th with 25:20.5.

The trio explained that the growth has happened over time and began by living together as freshmen.

“Living together in the dorms got us really close,” Kuhn said. “It created a bond that carried over into this year.”

Additionally, Ryan believes the sophomore class benefited from opportunities they had last year.

“A big reason why we’re so successful right now is because we’ve already had these high-pressure experiences as freshmen,” he added.

The second-year runners don’t just help the team on the course. They are constantly working on setting new goals and establishing a strong team culture.

“We’re trying to raise the standard on the team,” Ryan said. “I think compared to past groups, we are hungrier.”

Kuhn agreed and said the passion and determination they all have led to the creation of a new team mantra: “You’re either with us, or you’re without us.”

“We’ve come in and installed that culture,” Kuhn said. “Our class has shown a lot of consistency, and that’s carried over to the rest of the team.”

Consistency will be key if the Hawkeye men hope to accomplish their goal of a higher team placement than last year at the Big Ten meet. Kuhn, Ryan, and Sheppard all competed in the 2022 conference meet and helped contribute to the team’s seventh-place finish.

This year, the men’s program is focused on pack running and pulling each other along to a better team result. With this new tactic and race plan, the sophomore class is confident success is in their future.

“We have more of a pack mentality,” Ryan said. “We’re trying to run together and as more of a team.”

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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.