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 women’s cross country comes to a close for the 2023 season, top runners reflect on strides made

Iowa women’s squad realizes the biggest improvements were more apparent in practices than on scoresheets.
Iowa+womens+cross+country+team+stretches+during+a+practice+at+the+Hawkeye+Indoor+Track+Facility+in+Iowa+City+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+21%2C+2023.
Kathy Le
Iowa women’s cross country team stretches during a practice at the Hawkeye Indoor Track Facility in Iowa City on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023.

The Iowa women’s cross country season came to a close on Nov. 10.

After failing to qualify for the NCAA Championships with a 19th-place team finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional meet, the Hawkeyes reflected on their growth this season, on and off the course.

“This season, we have grown in just about every way,” fourth-year distance runner Amber Aesoph said. “It’s just hard to see it on the stats sheet. We’ve made so many improvements that will help us down the road, but it is just going to take time.”

The season began with a 4,000-meter race at Iowa’s home meet, the Hawkeye Invitational. During the debut meet, the Iowa women finished second as a team with 37 points total. This is the best team result the Hawkeye women would receive all season.

The rest of the regular season consisted of lower finishes and higher team point total, but what no one can see on a scoresheet is the improvement the Hawkeye women were experiencing during training.

“I would say our biggest improvements came at practice,” fourth-year distance runner Kelli Tosic said. “It also helped as we learned how to prepare for meets.”

Fourth-year Abby Ryon believes the tough practices and preparation gave the team the confidence they needed for the biggest meets of the year — the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Midwest Regionals.

“We have that confidence of knowing what we need to do and just tweaking little things along the way,” Ryon said. “That way we can be our best selves when it comes to races like regionals.”

Not only did the team come together at practice, they also bonded outside of running more than ever. Tosic attributes this factor to Iowa first-year assistant distance coach Shayla Houlihan.

“[Houlihan] has done a great job unifying us outside of practice,” Tosic said. “There was even one time in the fall when she encouraged us all to go to an apple orchard together and bond. It was really fun.”

The team’s friendship outside of the sport only improved their results. As the season progressed, the Iowa women earned a combined total of 23 personal-best times.

“We have learned a lot about each other as the other season has progressed,” Houlihan told Hawkeye Sports following Iowa’s Big Ten Championship race.

Another highlight of the season was the newcomers the team was able to utilize. First-year distance runners Cameron Kalaway and Clare Kelly were able to gain valuable experience on the course for the Hawkeyes. This proved helpful for the women’s squad as the middle of the pack became riddled with inconsistencies throughout the season.

“We all have a role,” Aesoph said. “If someone isn’t having a good day, that’s when you need to step in and have their back. Not everyone is always going to be at the top of their game.”

As for what Hawkeye cross country fans can expect to see in the future, the women’s team hopes to see better team finishes and more consistency across the board.

“When we keep having to push each other and fight for the spot we’re in and know it’s never guaranteed,” Aesoph said. “If we continue to do that and push each other in practice, we will get better results from it.”

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About the Contributors
Mia Boulton, Sports Reporter
she/her/hers
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.
Kathy Le, Photojournalist
(she/her/hers)
Kathy Le is a fourth-year student at The University of Iowa majoring in 3D design and Art History. This is her first year working as a photojournalist of Daily Iowan.