The men's cross-country team took to Lubbock, Texas, this weekend, attempting to continue its season-long strategy: consistency.
And it worked. The Cyclones took second place at the Big 12 Championships on Saturday morning, coming only behind Oklahoma State.
One thing that made this meet different than any other was the beginning of the race. It began slow and didn’t truly begin until the second half of the race, assistant coach Jeremy Sudbury said.
Combining a narrow track with a slow start resulted in a lot of jostling between runners. What started out as a physical race turned to a tactical one around the 5-kilometer mark.
“Overall, we were pleased with how our guys ran,” Sudbury said. “They each had to run smart and make choices to protect themselves early on.”
The strategy remained the same: maximize potential and give themselves a chance to finish well down the stretch.
Oklahoma State was the favorite, having won multiple Big 12 Championships in recent years, but beating the Cowboys wasn’t part of the thought process for the Cyclones. The goal coming in was to finish inside the top two to get more points to put toward the national meet.
One other positive for the men was the ability to have an eighth guy get to compete. In most meets this season, only seven were able to run, but for the championships, Iowa State got to add one more. That eighth guy was Dan Curts.
“We decided to give Curts a chance,” Sudbury said. “Coach [Martin] Smith and I saw that he had gained his strength and endurance and decided to reward him.”
This was Curts’ first official start of the season.
Thomas Pollard was the first Cyclone to cross the finish line, also finishing fourth best among the field.
Two other guys had great races, Josef Andrews and Andrew Jordan.
“Jordan ran really well and finished ninth overall as a true freshman,” Sudbury said. “He was out of it early but he didn’t give up and kept fighting forward.”
The second through sixth positions for the men finished about 20 seconds apart. That type of running and finishing together will benefit the team most in the regional and national meets, Sudbury said.
Prior to the men’s meet, the Iowa State women had their chance to compete as well.
“Coach Smith and I were very impressed with how they ran, cheering them on to victory,” Sudbury said. “They ran tough and came in unafraid. It was awesome to watch.
"Hopefully both the men and women can win a title someday.”