With students eagerly anticipating Thanksgiving break next week, there seems to be no time to rest for the Iowa State cross country program.
Both the Cyclones' men's and women's squads competed in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship meet at Oklahoma State University Friday morning, with both teams coming in as current title holders. This is the most important meet of the season as the top two teams in each Regional automatically qualify for the national championships at Indiana State on Nov. 23, while the remaining qualification spots are decided as "at-large" bids.
First up was the Women's 6K championship race, with the Iowa State women entering the meet placed just outside the national rankings and sporting a No. 6 regional ranking. The Cyclones were facing off against three of the top-30 ranked squads.
At the gun, the Cyclones played it a bit conservative in the opening stages of the race, crossing the 2K checkpoint at ninth place, amassing 263 points.
Junior Cailie Logue started her quest to repeat as Midwest Regional champion in strong fashion, sticking with the lead pack for a majority of the race. At the first checkpoint, she sat in fourth place behind runners from Tulsa, Illinois and Northern Illinois.
As the race progressed, the Cyclones began to make a break for the upper spots of the standings. Senior Abby Caldwell, who sat at in 44th place at the 2K mark, moved up to the 20th spot once the race crossed its 4K checkpoint. The Cyclone surge was further helped by junior Larkin Chapman and freshman Madelynn Hill, who moved up to the 69th and 63rd places respectively, as the Cyclones now sat in sixth.
Down the final stretches of the race is where Logue made her break for home. The Erie, Kansas native took the lead pack on closer to the 5K mark, passing Northern Illinois junior Ashley Tutt and never looked back. Logue crossed the line in a time of 20:20.6, automatically qualifying her for Nationals. Caldwell finished as an All-Regional runner as well, moving up 25 spots to cross the line in 15th. The Cyclones collected 192 points and finished in sixth.
Over to the Men's 10K, it was all eyes on Edwin Kurgat and company to win a third-consecutive Midwest Regional championship. The Cyclones entered the race as the No. 5 team in the country, while also sporting a consensus No. 1 regional ranking.
Once the gun went off, the Cyclones quickly realized that this was not going to be a cakewalk. One of the biggest surprises of the season, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, predominantly relied on their strong pack running and surged into the first place spot at the 3K mark, with Iowa State back in sixth. Kurgat stood in 15th place at this juncture.
As the race progressed, the Cyclones began to climb their way back. Fellow senior David Too, running in his first season for the Cyclones, passed five runners to close into the 11th spot while Kurgat continued his climb to the eight position at the halfway mark. The Cyclones were further helped by sophomore Chad Johnson and junior Milo Greder, who both passed at least 30 runners each to enter into the top-15, while fellow junior Thomas Pollard entered the top-50.
On the back-half of the race is where the Cyclones really started to make their mark, with Edwin Kurgat leading the way. The Eldoret, Kenya native and All-American took the lead pack on and ascended his way to the top spot, followed closely by Tulsa junior Patrick Dever.
Kurgat commanded the race after the 8K mark, as he crossed the finish line in a time of 30:38.3 to defend his Midwest Regional individual title. The Cyclone surge proved successful once again, as fellow senior Too finished in 10th place to bookend the top spots. Johnson and Greder also finished in the top-15 at the 12th and 13th spots respectively, as Iowa State placed six runner in the top-25 to earn All-Regional honors.
The Cyclones amassed a total of 54 points to finish in second place behind Tulsa's 37. In doing so, the Iowa State men punched a ticket to a fourth-straight National Championships bid, while Cailie Logue earned an automatic individual spot by taking first place in her race, while the Cyclone women did not qualify any other runners at the time of writing.
Looking ahead to next week, the NCAA National Championships will be held Nov. 23 at the Lavern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana, hosted by Indiana State University. The Women's 6K championship will be up first at 11:15 a.m. followed by the Men's 10K race at 12:15 p.m. Both races can be live streamed on Flo Track.
Women's Individual Results:
1. Cailie Logue, Jr.- 20:20.6
15. Abby Caldwell, Sr.-21:05.2
51. Dana Feyen, Fr.-21:56.7
62. Madelynn Hill, Fr.-22:06.4
66. Larkin Chapman, Jr.-22:10.0
102. Janette Schraft, Fr.-22:37.3
180. Alexis Gourrier, Fr.-23:52.5
Women's Team Results:
1. Illinois- 108 pts.
2. Tulsa- 123 pts.
3. Minnesota- 130 pts.
4. Oklahoma State- 159 pts.
5. Missouri- 172 pts.
6. Iowa State- 192 pts.
Men's Individual Results:
1. Edwin Kurgat, Sr.- 30:38.3
10. David Too, Sr.- 31:07.8
12. Chad Johnson, So.- 31:11.7
13. Milo Greder, Jr.- 31:13.5
18. Thomas Pollard, Jr.- 31:19.0
24. Mitchell Day, Jr.- 31:31.2
29. Addison Dehaven- 31:39.1
Men's Team Results:
1. Tulsa- 37 pts.
2. Iowa State- 54 pts.
3. Kansas- 150 pts.