Much like the many trees changing to the fall season, The Iowa State Cross Country program has officially shifted into its post-season portion of the year.
The Cyclones men's and women's teams will be heading to Waco, Texas, on Saturday morning to compete against the Big 12 Conference's best at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course.
Both of the Cyclones squads are two-time defending conference champions. Along with this, Iowa State also holds the individual men's and women's crowns in Edwin Kurgat and Cailie Logue respectively.
Looking at the men's side, three of the nine squads competing Saturday are currently ranked in the U.S. Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national poll. The Cyclones lead the way at the No. 5 spot, with Oklahoma State and Texas holding the No. 27 and 30 notches respectively.
All eyes will be on Cyclone All-American Kurgat as he looks to defend his Big 12 crown after a home win last fall. The senior from Eldoret, Kenya is looking to become the first Cyclone since Ian Robinson in 1994 to repeat as the conference title holder.
The Cyclones finished in the top-5 for all three meets of their regular season. They will be looking to Greder and Johnson, both of whom finished in the top-15 at last years Big 12s, to carry them through once again. Other key runners to look for are transfers David Too and Addison Dehaven, who will look to lock some key spots for the Cyclones as well.
Over on the women's side, it will be a similar kind of spotlight for junior Cailie Logue as she also looks to repeat as the conference's best. The Erie, Kansas native will look to become the first Iowa State runner since Debbie Vetter back in the mid-1970s.
The field on the women's side currently has only one of the ten teams running at Baylor University ranked in the (USTFCCCA) national rankings Oklahoma State. Nevertheless, it serves to bring up some stiff competition for the Cyclones as three of the teams competing are also in their NCAA regional, which is the key to qualifying for nationals. The Cyclones dropped out of the national poll after finishing 27th at the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational two weeks back.
Behind Logue, the Cyclones will be relying on experienced runners in junior Larkin Chapman and senior Abby Caldwell, both of whom were key to the Cyclones' team victory last year in Ames. Caldwell was Iowa State's only individual champion this season, taking the top spot at the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa, back in September.
The men's 6K race will begin at 10 a.m. C.T. on Saturday morning with the women's 8K race following at 11 a.m. C.T. Live streaming of this meet can also be accessed by viewers who have ESPN+, with live results also available online.
-#27 Oklahoma State
-#5 Iowa State
-#29 Oklahoma State