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 men’s cross country gears up, aims for top five finish at Big Ten Championships

The program wants more than it has earned in recent years’ championship seasons.
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 Iowa men’s cross country team has been on and off throughout its past Big Ten Championship performances. This year, the Hawkeyes want more.

The Hawkeye men finished seventh as a team in last October’s meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, setting the scene for this year’s goal of improving and breaking into the top five.

The 2023 Big Ten Championship meet will take place in Madison, Wisconsin, on Oct. 27. In preparation for the race, Iowa distance coach Randy Hasenbank reflected on his teams’ past performances and future expectations.

“We’ve been sixth in this meet and seventh in this meet, but we haven’t gotten past that threshold,” Hasenbank said. “It would take a great performance to get past that mark, but our goal is to get in that upper division.”

In order to achieve this goal, Hasenbank said the top runner will have to place in the top 10 or 15. Likewise, he says the rest of the pack will need to follow suit and stay focused.

“We’ve been very inconsistent throughout this season, so we need to have everyone on the same page and dialed in,” he said.

Leadership will be key to executing this plan.

With just one senior on the roster in Jack Pendergast, the Hawkeyes will need to lean on the experience of everyone on the team.

“We need a lot of leadership out there,” Hasenbank said. “We’ve got some experienced guys who run at a high level. There’s just no margin for error, and every guy matters.”

Hasenbank will thus depend on standout third-year distance runners Max Murphy and Aidan King, who hope to lead the team both physically and mentally.

“We have a very, very young team,” King said. “For me, [leadership] is about being that calm, steady voice telling the guys what I know and what I’ve experienced.”

This will be King’s fourth Big Ten Championship meet while it will be Murphy’s third.

Last year, Murphy finished in 37th place with a time of 24:58.8 in the 8,000-meter race. King followed behind in 83rd place with a time of 25:51.0.

With his past experience, Murphy sees the 2023 meet as an opportunity to lead others by staying calm in the intense environment by treating it like “just another race” — setting him up well if his breakout season thus far is any indication.

Murphy broke the men’s program’s 6,000-meter race record at the Hawkeye Invite on Sept. 1.

“It’s an important meet, but we still want to keep the same mindset that we had for the regular season,” Murphy said. “We just need to build off of that and then put it all together.”

Murphy’s goal is to stay at the front of the race and remain in the top pack.

To accomplish this, he continues to rely on his teammates in training. Murphy noted how the underclassmen’s youth has brought a lighter dynamic to the group and encouraged veterans such as himself to continue to enjoy the sport.

“The youth of the team is something we really haven’t had before,” King said. “The energy those guys bring and the talent those guys bring is great.”

Similarly, Murphy sees the team’s dynamic of first- and second-years in addition to the upperclassmen as unique, which he argues will benefit the team at conference.

“We have a really good group of guys who have worked really hard and bought into the program,” Murphy said. “It also helps going into conference that we enjoy it and have fun. When you’re enjoying it and excited, you race a lot better.”

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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.