The Iowa State men’s cross country proved they meant business on Friday at the Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin.
The Cyclones followed up a second place finish at the Roy Griak Invite with an eighth place finish in Madison.
The biggest takeaway from the race, however, wasn’t the finish itself but the team proving it can adapt from meet to meet. Though they have only run in three total meets this one was the most difficult for a variety of reasons, according to assistant coach Jeremy Sudbury.
The competition was the deepest and most difficult including 19 nationally ranked teams making up most of the field. If that weren’t difficult enough the course is narrower than most others, making passing and moving up in the race more difficult.
“Our guys had to navigate their own race,” Sudbury said. “We didn’t want them to get caught up in the rush up front but at the same time if they were too far back they might become too disengaged.”
At the two-kilometer mark in the race, the team sat in 24th place, not where the coaching staff was hoping they would be. A couple of runners were around 170th place at the time, but they persevered and made their way up through the field.
“We were worried at the beginning of the race,” Sudbury said. “They were able to push through by putting faith in their training, and that was nice to see them come away with positive results.”
Near the end of the race things got more chaotic as guys tried to make their final moves. Up to 10 guys finished within three seconds of each other, according to Sudbury. This didn’t faze runners like transfer senior Kevyn Hoyos however.
Hoyos has provided dividends for the Cyclones in their first couple meets. He has either finished first or second for the team and did more of the same by finishing as the first Cyclone on Friday with a time of 24:19.7. The coaching staff is hoping to continue his development as the season begins to close and rely on him competing well.
Besides finishing in the top-10 in Madison, this meet had also had implications on qualifying for nationals, one of the overall goals for the team.
“Anytime you can beat teams that will be auto-bids in the championship helps show the importance of these meets,” Sudbury said. “Doing well in this and the previous meet will allow the team to not worry as much come Regionals.”
The next test for the Cyclones comes at the Big 12 Championship in Lubbock, Texas. The staff want to approach it just like any other ordinary meet.
As the season winds down so does the school year meaning more of an emphasis is put on staying on top or ahead of classwork. The coaches want as little distractions as possible so they can focus on the mission of reaching Nationals.
“At this point it seems like the guys have enough faith in themselves and each other that we should have a good plan regardless of the conditions in Lubbock,” Sudbury said.
The Big 12 Championship will take place Saturday, October 29. The meet is slated to begin at 10:00 a.m.