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 notebook | Murphy, Blazek lead Hawkeyes in Joe Piane Invite

Next up, both men’s and women’s distance programs look ahead to the competition hosted by Bradley on Oct. 13.
Theodore Retsinas
Iowa’s Max Murphy closes in on the lead during the Hawkeye Invitational at Ashton Cross-Country Course in Iowa City on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. Murphy broke the University of Iowa men’s 6,000-meter record at the invite. The Iowa men’s team won the invite with the women coming in second.

The Iowa men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invite on Sept. 29, led by junior Max Murphy and sophomore Jalyssa Blazek. 

The meet marked Murphy’s second race of the year. Despite taking a few meets off, he earned the Hawkeyes a top-20 finish in the five-mile race with a time of 23:56.8. 

“I was pretty content with my performance,” Murphy said. “It was my first big race of the season.”

During the first mile, Murphy was in approximately 80th place but quickly moved into the top 20 come mile four.

“I got out pretty conservatively, and then I worked my way up into a pretty decent spot,” he said.

Murphy was followed by sophomore Miles Sheppard, who finished with a time of 24:55.6. Senior Jack Pendergast was the third Hawkeye to cross the line at the 25:00.8 mark. Freshman Miles Wilson ran a 25:04.2, and sophomore Brayden Burnett rounded out the top five Iowa men with a time of 25:17.0.

But the men’s team placed just 17th out of 18 teams and scored 400 points.

Murphy noted room for improvement but recognized this was a big meet with impressive cross country programs, including the host squad Notre Dame, who took first place. The Notre Dame men are also ranked eighth nationally.

“It was a really good field, so I knew it would be a tough race,” Murphy said. “It was exciting and a good opportunity to race a lot of good competition.”

Related: ‘I’m going to treat it like my last year’: Iowa women’s basketball’s Caitlin Clark talks upcoming season

On the women’s side, Blazek led the Hawkeyes with a time of 17:56.2 — a new personal-best in the 5,000-meter race.

“When I crossed the finish line, I had no idea what time I was coming in at,” Blazek said. “To have my family come up to me afterwards and tell me I broke 18 [minutes] was an awesome feeling. This has always been a goal of mine.”

But the women’s team also finished second-to-last, coming in 15th out of 16 teams and earning 381 points.

“I’m very proud of how the team competed,” Blazek said. “It wasn’t exactly what we were striving for, but it’s always great to see where we are at.”

Individually, including Blazek, seven Iowa women earned new personal-records in the 5,000-meter race:

  • Amber Aesoph ran a 17:59.4
  • Alli Bookin-Nosbisch ran an 18:01.4
  • Grace Bookin-Nosbisch ran an 18:04.2
  • Aleah Tenpas ran an 18:06.3
  • Cameron Kalaway ran an 18:23.4
  • Audra Soderlind ran an 18:38.7

The pack’s running tactic will be vital to the Hawkeye women’s race plan in upcoming meets.

“The trust and communication they have among each other on the course is something that is special to watch unfold as a coach,” Iowa assistant distance coach Shayla Houlihan told Hawkeye Sports. “We’ll continue to utilize that pack running mentality as we move closer to the championship portion of our season.”

Looking ahead

The Hawkeyes take the course again on Oct. 13, at the Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria, Illinois. This will be the final race before the Big Ten Championships, which will be held in Madison, Wisconsin, on Oct. 27.

“We still have work to do as we head toward the postseason,” distance coach Randy Hasenbank told Hawkeye Sports.

Murphy said that training hard for the Bradley Pink Classic will be instrumental to achieving the team’s goals during championship season. He looks forward to making final adjustments to the team’s race plan and preparing for the postseason meets.

“Right now, we are focused on running as a pack and seeing what improvements we have made,” Murphy said. “This will be the final race to get ready for the Big Ten [Championships].”

On the women’s side, Houlihan is excited to see the women compete in their first 6,000-meter race of the season. 

“We are excited to see what we can do over an extra kilometer,” Houlihan said. “I think we are better suited for that longer distance as a squad. It’s going to be really valuable leading into the Big Ten [Championships].”

Blazek sees training for the Bradley Pink Classic as an opportunity to prepare the team for postseason races. 

“We only have one regular season race left, but there is a lot of time to crush workouts and make big moves,” Blazek said. “There’s still a lot of potential for our team.”

More to Discover
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.