When one thinks of cross-country, aerospace engineering doesn't usually come to mind.

But freshman cross-country runner John Nownes says the two have more in common than you’d think.

“They both take a lot of dedication and focus,” Nownes said. “I think the study skills and habits that I learn in the classroom, I really can use that to focus in the same way in practice and races.”

Nownes started his cross-country career in Nebraska at Creighton Prep, and achieved a large list of awards. He was a two-time Nebraska Coaches Association Boys Cross-Country Super-State selection, an individual state champion his senior year and the 2014-15 Gatorade Nebraska Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year.

Nownes also has found success in the classroom. Nownes scored in the 30s on his ACT exam. But when asked about it, all he would do was chuckle, and turn the conversation back to the team.

For Nownes, the decision to come to Iowa State was a no-brainer.

“When I was thinking about my decision, I looked at two different parts — athletics and academics. I knew from my visit athletically this was the best place for me to improve,” he said. “And at the same time academically ... Iowa State is one of the best places in the country to get an aerospace engineer degree.”

But even as perfect of a fit as Iowa State is for Nownes, the transition from high school to college cross-country is still an adjustment.

Thankfully, he said, he is a fast learner.

“So far, it’s been pretty smooth,” Nownes said. “It’s learning the little things. Stuff as simple as getting a daily routine down.”

The freshman is already proving to be a valuable asset to the team. He competed in the Hawkeye Early Bird Invitational, where he finished 24th, enough to help secure the ISU overall victory in his first college meet.

The team hasn't competed since the Hawkeye Invitational, and has been taking it slow. But with the Cyclones heading to the Rim Rock Classic in Lawrence, Kansas, this weekend, Nownes said he just wants to do his part.

“I’m just really excited to be a part of the team and contribute immediately,” Nownes said. “It’s incredible to come to practice every day and run with the other guys.

"[I'm] just mentally being all in.”

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