After winning the Big 12 Championship last season, the women’s cross country program competed for the first time outdoors in Iowa City, Iowa this weekend with a first place finish.
Even though the team lost Big 12 Champion Cailie Logue from a year ago, they have depth throughout their lineup from freshmen to seniors that proved to be just as capable.
Freshman Taylor Briggs took ninth overall and freshman Riley Beach took 15th.
“The freshmen ran amazing for their first time out there, it’s the perfect kind of race for them, a 4k, kinda just down the road at Iowa, and it gave them a nice introduction,” Iowa State head coach Amy Rudolph said.
Even though there was no top finisher for the Cyclones, they were able to win the Hawkeye Invitational. Junior Janette Schraft led the Cyclone pack and finished second out of all runners. Juniors Dana Feyen and Madelynn Hill took third and fourth to help the Cyclone effort. The team finished with 33 points.
After COVID protocols and a season full of “what-ifs” when it came to events actually happening, the Cyclones' schedule is set in place and not changing any time soon.
“It was super exciting for all of the girls to just get back on the line again. I think after last year we were all pretty antsy to race a normal season and we’ve got some high hopes for the season. We’re dreaming big and to be able to get out there with the team is just this feeling of gratefulness,” Schraft said.
A new season means that new competition emerges. Seniors exit college programs and new freshmen take their place.
“First race out, we were expecting ourselves to do well. Coach was saying that there might be some girls from Loyola or Iowa that might pop off and do something crazy tonight, so we were kinda expecting a little bit of that,” Schraft said.
Awareness of other teams allows the Cyclones to see who they are up against. However, staying in their own lane and mindset has allowed the Cyclones to advance this offseason.
“Having confidence that we outworked anyone in the offseason and that’s literally the first race of the season and we are already so strong and we haven’t started fine tuning things yet. Being able to take what happened and use it as fuel for the rest of the season, our girls are long-distance girls," Schraft said.
Focusing on what they can control and how they run is crucial for the Cyclones who are looking to do more damage than a Big 12 Championship. This mentality, as Schraft described, has allowed them to consistently challenge themselves to become better runners.
The Cyclone women will get two more opportunities before the Big 12 Championship. The Roy Griak Invitational and the Nuttycombe Invitational. Even though the team will not be running in Ames this fall, the program is looking to have both programs back in Ames in the Fall of 2022.
The women’s cross country program will get another chance to show off their depth at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 24.