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 distance runner Jack Pendergast leads the Hawkeyes as the only fourth year on the Iowa men’s cross country roster

Iowa distance runner Jack Pendergast is leading the men’s cross country program as the only fourth-year in the Black and Gold.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa’s Jack Pendergast competes in the 4×1600 meter relay during day two of the 2023 Drake Relays at Drake Stadium in Des Moines on Friday, April 28, 2023. Iowa’s relay team finished ninth with a time of 17:11.68.

Distance runner Jack Pendergast is the only fourth-year athlete on the Iowa men’s cross country roster this season. Although he plans to utilize his fifth year of eligibility to compete as a Hawkeye, Pendergast is making the most of his fourth season.

Pendergast’s journey to the Black and Gold started during his senior year of high school at Cedar Rapids Prairie.

“We had a high school cross country meet at the University of Iowa cross country course, and I ended up winning that [meet],” Pendergast said. “That very night I called Coach [Hasenbank] and asked to be part of the team.”

Iowa distance coach Randy Hasenbank recalls this interaction and remembers recruiting Pendergast for his potential.

“[Pendergast] has a lot of talent, so obviously that’s what got him a roster spot,” Hasenbank said.

However, Pendergast believes physical talent can only push a cross country runner so far. He argues the mental side of the sport is just as important as physical fitness.

“You’ve got to do it for yourself,” Pendergast said. “The reason I run and am on the team is because I want to see how good I can get and how good the team can get.”

Pendergast has seen both individual and team improvements at Iowa. Comparing the 2021 to 2022 Big Ten Championships, the Iowa men’s team made a jump from 11th place to seventh place. Pendergast was the seventh Hawekeye to cross the line in 2021, while he improved to the fourth Iowa finisher in 2022.

“At the conference meet, it was really great to see that improvement,” Pendergast said. “In practice, we see people work hard every day, so it’s good to see those results in races.”

According to Pendergast’s friend and teammate, cross country third-year Ian Geisler, Pendergast’s leadership and passion for running is apparent in team workouts.

“His [leadership] is little things like getting the team moving and reminding everyone what needs to be done,” Geisler said.

Similarly, Hasenbank doesn’t classify Pendergast’s leadership as loud. Instead, he has noticed Pendergast leads by example and experience.

“He is a pretty quiet guy, but he is very consistent,” Hasenbank said. “He has put in a tremendous amount of work, and I really hope it pays off for him.”

Pendergast realizes the advantage his experience as a Hawkeye has given him but also knows there is something to be learned from the younger runners. Iowa cross country underclassmen, including second-year standouts Hayden Kuhn, Will Ryan, and Miles Sheppard, have shown Pendergast the value of always having fun.

“A lot of the younger guys are super enthusiastic, bring a lot of high energy, and are very optimistic,” Pendergast said. “It’s nice to feed off of that.”

However, Pendergast and the underclassmen understand they are all in constant competition. While some may assume this creates tension on the team, the Iowa men see value in competition as it brings the team closer.

“It’s definitely a competitive environment,” Pendergast said. “Everyone is competing for the same spot, but we know that we are friends and teammates above anything.”

This team comradery will be essential to Iowa’s success as Pendergast closes out his fourth cross country season. Although Pendergast looks forward to utilizing his fifth year of eligibility granted to him by the COVID-19 pandemic, he is making it a priority to run every race as if it were his last.

“I just look forward to every single race,” Pendergast said. “Every race is an opportunity, and I don’t want to waste that.”

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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.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.